Ute Indian tribe calls Biden’s newest national monument an ‘unlawful act of genocide’

Elected tribal leaders said they were not adequately consulted on Colorado’s designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, which is on their traditional homelands.

(Carolyn Kaster | AP) President Joe Biden speaks on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado on the protection and preservation of America’s iconic outdoor assets.

Ute Tribe leaders blasted President Joe Biden for designating Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado on Wednesday without proper tribal consultation, calling Biden’s action “an unlawful act of genocide.”

Biden traveled to the mountain region near Leadville, Colorado, and used his Antiquities Act authority to designate the 53,804-acre national monument, which includes the military camp where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II, as well as the surrounding national forest land.

Hours later, the Ute Indian Tribe – headquartered in Ft. Duchesne, Utah – Released a lengthy statement condemning the government’s failure to officially consult the tribe and noting that the traditional homelands of the tribe’s Uncompahgre Band are within the memorial area.

“These new monuments are an abomination and demonstrate a blatant disregard and disregard for the treaty rights and sovereign status of the Ute Indian tribe as a federally recognized Indian tribe,” said Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the tribe’s governing council and member of the Uncompahgre Band.

The Uncompahgre Band were driven from the land located in the new memorial in 1880 after being herded by an act of Congress onto the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northern Utah, which tribal leaders described as a “forced death march across the United States.” designated states when we were driven out of Colorado at gunpoint.”

The tribe said they only learned of the plans to name the memorial days ago. Although elected leaders attended a call to the White House earlier this week, “little details were shared,” they said.

“[The Biden administration] moved forward with a memorial to our homelands without involving us,” the Tribal Business Committee, the governing council of the Ute Indian tribe, said in the statement. “They speak of tribal consultations, but their actions do not match their words. We cannot support a memorial in our homelands that does not include the tribe.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shaun Chapoose, tribal chief of the Ute Indian tribe, speaks during the 15th Annual Native American Governor’s Summit held on Friday, August 6, 2021 on the Utah Valley University campus.

The Ute Indian tribe officially supported the designation of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, created by then-President Barack Obama in 2016 at the request of numerous tribes with ancestral ties to the region.

After former President Donald Trump reduced the monument by 85% in 2017, the Ute tribe joined the other four members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to sue Trump over the action.

The memorial’s boundaries were restored by Biden last year, and the five tribes in the coalition entered into an interstate agreement with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to develop a management plan and inform management decisions at Bears Ears.

Last year, Biden appointed Deb Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, to head the Interior Department. She is the first Native American woman to serve in a Presidential Cabinet post.

Biden also appointed Chuck Sams of the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to head the National Park Service. Sams is the first tribal citizen to fill this role.

Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is the first new monument Biden has designated, and the action has had the support of a broad coalition of veterans, business owners, hunters and anglers, and numerous conservation organizations. Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Rep. Joe Neguse and Gov. Jared Polis praised Biden’s actions.

Members of the 10th Mountain Division trained in mountain combat tactics, often on skis, at Camp Hale during World War II, and many veterans later became involved in Colorado’s ski industry.

In his comments Wednesday, Biden acknowledged the region’s importance to veterans and Indigenous connections to the Colorado landscape.

“For thousands of years,” Biden said, “tribal nations have been stewards of this sacred land, hunting game, seeking medicinal plants, and nurturing a deep, spiritual connection with the land itself. But by the 1800s, mining activities and the federal government drove Indigenous tribes from their homes.” But these tribes continued to use these sacred lands.”

Members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe — which is headquartered in Ignacio, Colorado, and has ancestral ties to the Camp Hale area — were present for the signing of the presidential proclamation on Wednesday.

The Ute Indian tribe said Biden “returned to the discredited federal policy of ‘chief making’ by attempting to pick and choose between tribes and tribal leaders.” They went on to condemn the Biden administration for not involving the tribe in the administration of the memorial.

The Tribal Business Committee is also asking the Biden administration to return 1.8 million acres of unceded Ute land within Utah’s Uncompahgre Reservation to the tribe. The land is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

“The United States cannot move forward without acknowledging and accepting its past and taking meaningful action to address these issues with our tribal homelands now,” the committee said. “Unless this happens, the United States will always let this deplorable history hang over it like a black cloud and will never be able to rise to become a nation with moral and legal legitimacy, which will forever diminish its standing in the world community .”

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/10/13/ute-indian-tribe-calls-bidens/ Ute Indian tribe calls Biden’s newest national monument an ‘unlawful act of genocide’

Justin Scacco

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