Did The President Steal Your Land?

Did The President Steal Your Land?

Opinion free facts on the President's recent amendments to the Bears Ears and Escalante Proclamations.

As I am sure you have already heard, President Trump recently announced that he would be decreasing the size of the national monuments, Bears Ears and Escalante. The most immediate and publicized response to this came from the company, Patagonia. Last Tuesday, they replaced their homepage with the following message:

This was the first I saw of the President's decision on the two monuments. Being a person who likes to know as much as possible before jumping on any bandwagons, I decided to do some research.

Low and behold I could find almost no actual facts on the issue. Every result from my Google searches were filled with opinions on the issue, but no actual data. I even caught a segment on NPR about the issue and was shocked that by the end of it I still had no idea which, if any, laws were being broken and what was actually being taken away. I read piece after piece of news media on the subject and once again found only "How dare Trump do this!" and "How dare anyone question the President's decision!" Both of which told me absolutely nothing.

So, I am going to present to you the quick facts of this issue in a non-partisan manor so that we may all have the actual data involved without having to go to 18+ different sites like I did. From there, you are welcome to draw your own opinions.

Fact: Bears Ears was designated as a national monument in December of 2016 by President Barack Obama, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Both of these monuments are located in Utah.

Fact: The Antiquities Act of 1906 (also known as section 320301 of title 54 in the U.S. code) states that the President may name/declare by public proclamation national monuments, section B of this act also states that the parcels of land shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

There is also a C and D of this act that you can view using this link, however it is section A and B that are of primary concern to this issue.

Fact: Through President Trump's latest amendment to the size of the two land marks, Bears Ears will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres and Escalante will be reduced from 1.9 million acres to 1,003,863 acres.

Fact: President Trump's amendment to the each of the original Proclamations proclaims the amendment has been made due to the fact that the President has decided that the originally set boundaries were not the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. In each proclamation the President states which objects he claims are either not historically relevant enough to be considered a national monument, or are protected under other laws and have therefore been deemed by the President unnecessary to be included in the National Monument.

You can read both of these Proclamations, which are surprisingly readable and short for government documents, using the following links:

Bears Ears Proclamation Escalante Proclamation

Fact: Five major lawsuits are currently being filed against the President in response to these Proclamations. The arguments against the proclamations are as follows:

In response to the Bears Ears Proclamation:

1. Hopi Tribe et al v. Trump et al: Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president does not have the legal authority to revoke or modify a monument — only to designate one. Additionally, the tribes say the 1.35 million acres set aside by President Barack Obama holds spiritual significance and contains cultural artifacts that deserve protection at the threat of looting, grave-robbing, vandalism and development.

2. Utah Dine Bikeyah et al v. Trump et al: Reducing the 1.35 million-acre monument would threaten hundreds of historical rock art panels, artifacts, pueblos and kivas. For its part, Patagonia insists the cuts would hurt the company financially by taking away recreation areas that provide “some of the best rock climbing in North America” used by its customers. Development in the area, adds Friends of Cedar Mesa, would mean “direct and immediate harm” to the paleontological hot spots within the monument’s boundaries, and oil and gas drilling would “result in the destruction and degradation” of the ecosystem.

3. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: Trimming the monument would threaten “irreplaceable” archaeological artifacts and damage paleontology sites.

In response to the Escalante Proclamation:

4. The Wilderness Society et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: The lawsuit alleges Trump is stripping protection for land that would leave “remarkable fossil, cultural, scenic and geological treasures exposed to immediate and ongoing harm.” That includes the Kaiparowits Plateau, which holds abundant coal deposits and is a paleontological treasure trove

5. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners et al v. Trump et al: Removing protection from nearly 900,000 acres in the monument would threaten “sensitive resources located there,” including plant and bee species, archaeological artifacts and geological formations. The president’s actions were illegal.

For more details on each of these lawsuits, visit 5 Lawsuits Against President Trump's Proclamations

Fact: President Trump's size reduction of the two national monuments is the largest elimination of protected land in American History.

Fact: A President has never reduced or amended the size of a National Monument, as the Antiquity Act of 1906 allows for Presidents to create a National Monument, but does not state that they are allowed to modify or remove a National Monument after it has been instated. (This interpretation of the law will obviously be up for debate in the upcoming court cases.)

There you have it, the hard facts of the "Did the President Steal Your Land?" debate. I hope this was helpful and will lead to a knowledgable debate as to whether these Proclamations were good/bad, legal/illegal.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Being Understood By Your Parents When You Come Out Starts With You Also Being Understanding

The process of coming out can be hard for both the person coming out, and their family


When I came out as bisexual, it didn't go very well. It was my junior year of high school, national coming out day rolled around, and I did it very impulsively. I texted my parents in a group chat, and they didn't take it well. The way that I chose to come out wasn't super conventional. Though it was my deal, and I should get to choose the route I am most comfortable with, I know that I didn't really set my parents up for success. It was impersonal, and it didn't go well with them, and I've learned to take some of the blame for that over time. It's not a fun memory for myself or my parents, and I think that if I had given them a chance and hadn't been so scared, the memory might have been a happier one.

Everyone's living situation is different; some people may not have a safe enough environment to be themselves in at any point in time. Maybe your identity is something you will keep safe and close to your heart, and that is okay. If you're like me, you want to put it out there and make sure that you're accepted and that everything is okay. I needed that acceptance from my parents and I really wasn't mature or ready enough to tell them, but the anxiety of not knowing how they would take it was overwhelming. I jumped the gun and I blamed them for the way they reacted to it for a long time.

It is important to understand your child and it is important to love them unconditionally. The sexual orientation of your child should not determine whether or not you love and respect them. The gender identity of your child should not determine whether or not you love and respect them. On the other hand, it is important to understand that for the parents that have grown up in a more sheltered universe, they might not handle it as well as you picture it. Every coming out story isn't gonna look exactly like "Love, Simon."

It's scary for a parent to hear that their child is a minority. It's scary to hear horror stories like Orlando and to imagine your child in that nightclub. They might not be able to understand why you can't just be like everyone else at first. I know that navigating my identity around my parents had been hard in the past. I tried not to talk about it for a long time, then I talked about it way too much, but now it's just a part of me and it doesn't really need to be talked about.

Last Christmas I came home from college and I expected a very normal winter break. I spent time with family and friends, and when it came time to open presents I didn't really expect a ton. Money had been tight, and there wasn't a huge budget for Christmas, but I wasn't terribly upset by it. The last gift that I opened was small but heavy. I took the lid off of the box, and I was surprised to see a mug with the words "Love is Love" written on it. My parents never knew that after I got that mug I went into my room and cried. I cried a lot. I felt the weight of a thousand bricks off of my shoulders, and I got the acceptance that 16-year-old Paige was aching for.

Sometimes you have to give your parents time to understand. You have to help them learn. Respect and patience on both sides of things is imperative, and you have to give things time to settle. In my case, it took 3 years to really feel settled in my own identity and with my parents. These things aren't easy at times, but you can't give up on the people you love.

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