Op-ed: Navajo people have already been restricted enough

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Bears Ears, of Bears Ears National Monument on Monday, May 8, 2017.

I am Navajo, born on the Navajo Nation. My parents and ancestors are from the reservation. My mother’s families are from the Ganado and Window Rock area in Arizona. My father’s families are from the Shiprock and Aneth area of New Mexico and Utah. My late paternal grandfather, John Mitchell Sr., is from Aneth, Utah. He was a medicine man practicing many of our traditional ways and was very respected in the community.

I was dissappointed when environmental organization pushed to have the Feds designate the Bears Ears area as a national monument. These groups have claimed they are assisting a grassroots group of Native Americans to push for the designation.

While researching I couldn’t help but think of one person: Stella Peshlakai Smith. I read about Stella a few years ago. Her story was heartbreaking. She was born in an area that was designated Wupatki National Monument in 1924. Stella is Navajo. Her father and many other Navajos have resided in this area after they returned from Bosque Redondo, a time we call Hweeldi (The Suffering) but better known as The Long Walk. Once the national monument was designated, the park service restricted a lot of things the Navajos could do in this area. Making it near impossible to continue their way of life. Raising sheep has always been a way of life for our Navajo people. The…

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