On Monday, President Donald Trump used a slur during a ceremony honoring Native American veterans of World War II. Next week, Trump will fly to Utah to announce that he’s shrinking two Native American national monuments in the state.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Trump will be in town to officially announce his intention to reduce the boundaries of the sacred Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Sources said he will not visit the monuments and will not stay in Utah overnight.
The 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears site was designated a national monument towards the end of the Obama administration. The monument contains more than 100,000 archaeological sites and caches important artifacts related to the Pueblo and Navajo tribes. The area is considered a sacred place by the Navajo, Hopi, Uintah & Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes.
Before former President Obama declared it a national monument, Bears Ears had been the site of several looting incidents.
Also on the chopping block is the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, which is home to a number of archaelogical sites, pictographs and artifacts of some of the first people to inhabit the region. When the area was designated a national monument, tourism spiked.
The decision to shrink (in some cases, nearly halving the acreage) the monuments stemmed from an Interior Department review of 27 large national monuments — a review that was triggered by Trump. Environmentalists and Native groups have formed a coalition to fight back against the attack on the sacred sites, and are threatening legal action against the government.
The news comes just one day after Trump referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” during a ceremony to honor Indigenous World War II veterans. The racist insult — related to Trump’s fixation on Warren’s claim of Native American heritage — has drawn sharp criticism from indigenous groups and lawmakers.