Navajo leaders enter land use debate

After mostly standing by as wilderness debates have raged for more than three decades, local Native American officials have entered the public lands debate.
In a document titled Diné Bikeyah, officials have called for the creation of the Diné Bikeyah National Conservation Area on Bureau of Land Management public lands in San Juan County. The designation would allow the Native American populations to identify the natural and cultural resources on BLM lands that are in need of protection.
The document recounts the history of the area, and the rights of the Native American populations to participate in the planning and land management process.
The document states, “Federal and state governments have an obligation, both legal and moral, to involve native tribes in major decisions affecting access and use.”
“We continue to rely on and use public lands... Our oral traditions, our stories spring from the canyons and mountains of San Juan County.”
Former San Juan County Commissioner and Navajo Nation delegate Mark Maryboy explains, “Even as all sides continue to argue about these lands, the lands continue to be desecrated.” He adds, “We also hope our legitimate voices can serve as a bridge to foster a more successful planning process.”
A copy of the document can be downloaded here.

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