Foundations Launch Fund to Ensure Native Voice in Monument Management

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, in partnership with five other foundations, has announced the creation of a $1.5 million fund to strengthen native management of the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

Contributed by the Hewlett, Wyss, Leonardo DiCaprio, David and Lucile Packard, and Wilburforce foundations and the Grand Canyon Trust, the funds will establish the Bears Ears Community Engagement Fund in support of robust tribal involvement in managing the more than 1.3 million acres of land proclaimed a national monument by President Barack Obama in December. Among other things, the funds will provide resources to help minimize threats to the protected landscape stemming from looting and vandalism; promote traditional resource stewardship in and use of the protected acreage; sponsor a cultural resource inventory and interpretation activities; and support sustainable recreation management by local communities.

The national monument designation safeguards one of the nation's most significant and spectacular cultural landscapes while honoring five native tribal nations — the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe — which prize more than a hundred thousand archaeological, rock art, and sacred cultural sites within the monument. With the support of another thirty tribal governments, the five nations joined together to request the national monument designation to protect the sites, which have long been threatened by ongoing looting, vandalism, and development plans.

"President Obama's designation of the Bears Ears National Monument is a beautiful and hopeful recognition of the enduring tribal ties to these lands," said Grand Canyon Trust executive director Bill Hedden. "To realize the full promise of blending modern science and indigenous wisdom, it is critical that the members of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition have the resources to participate fully with federal agencies in developing the monument management plans. We are honored to provide funds to assist that process."