THE NATIVE VOICE
HANK STEVENS has already witnessed the toxic contamination caused by a 20th-century boom in uranium mining on his cultural homeland—sacred sites and hunting grounds in southeastern Utah. As president of the Navajo Mountain Chapter of the Navajo Nation, he has been working for years to save the nearby Bears Ears National Monument from the same fate.
Stevens also co-chairs the Bears Ears Inter-tribal Coalition, made up of Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Ute tribes. As its Navajo representative, he’s organized decision-makers and traveled to spread the urgent message of what’s at stake. Bears Ears is a sacred site not just for the tribes, but anyone wishing to experience the glories of its natural state.
The coalition successfully petitioned the Obama administration for federal protections for Bears Ears, the first designated monument proposed by Native American leaders. And after the Trump administration’s drastic reduction of Bears Ears’ protected acreage, the group steadfastly defended the region from an aggressive oil, gas and mining agenda.
The result? President Biden’s executive order to review again the monument’s boundaries.
“The next opportunity is now,” says Stevens.