Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, Patagonia Partner To Support Stewardship of Bears Ears

Bears Ears National Monument
Photo credit: Tim Peterson & EcoFlight

BLANDING, UT – For the first time in U.S. history, a coalition of five tribal nations has collaborated with federal agencies to create a land management plan for their ancestral homelands on public lands. Patagonia has supported the tribes’ vision for Bears Ears and is helping the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (BEITC) gain support for Alternative E of the recently released draft Resource Management Plan (RMP).

“Tribal lands and resources extend far beyond our current reservation boundaries,” said Christopher Tabbee, Vice Chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee and Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. “We face increasing drought, growing wildfires, and a quickly changing climate. It is long past time for the federal government and all people to look to tribal knowledge and experience to sustainably manage these lands.”

Alternative E prioritizes responsible recreation and access, incorporating Traditional Indigenous Knowledge (TIK) into land management practices for the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM). It is also the preferred alternative for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, aligning most closely with the presidential proclamations that established and restored the BENM.

“As the first national monument proposed by a coalition of tribal nations, the designation of Bears Ears National Monument is unprecedented, and the plan for managing it must be too,” said Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia. “Alternative E will balance public access and recreation with the preservation of cultural resources. We thank the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition for their leadership, and we thank the Biden administration for being receptive to, and respectful of, Traditional Indigenous Knowledge.”

This partnership will support Alternative E, which:

  • Gives local tribal communities a voice in managing their ancestral lands
  • Raises awareness of Indigenous stewardship principles
  • Promotes co-stewardship of the BENM and other culturally significant areas
  • Incorporates TIK and closely follows Tribal recommendations
  • Encourages responsible recreation while protecting cultural and natural resources within the monument

“Bears Ears holds deep spiritual and cultural significance, and is rich in ancestral history,” said Craig Andrews, Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe and Co-Chair Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. “The entire landscape contains countless cultural belongings that are vital to preserving our lifeways as Hopi people. Protecting Bears Ears ensures that future generations can continue to connect with our history and cultural identity. Alternative E represents a significant step forward in recognizing the value of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge in public lands management. We are grateful for Patagonia’s support in this crucial endeavor.”

The BEITC works to protect and promote the sacred, spiritual, historical, natural, scientific, and cultural resources within the Bears Ears landscape, utilizing TIK to inform its work. The BEITC is led by tribal leaders from the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Hopi Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and assisted the five nations in proposing and establishing the BENM. The BEITC supports the Bears Ears Commission by providing resources, expertise, and funding to develop and implement management plans for the monument.

“Our plan for Bears Ears promotes sustainability and cultural values and is a model for survival of all,” said Vice Chairman Tabbee.