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Navajo leader slams Trump for grabbing Native American land after insulting war heroes

Donald Trump’s decision to go against Navajo wishes and remove thousands of acres of land from federal protection came exactly one week after he used a racist slur honoring Navajo heroes of World War II. Continuing his obsession with undoing the legacy of President Barack Obama, Trump has now rescinded President Obama’s designation of protected land […]

By Oliver Willis - December 04, 2017
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Jonathan Nez
Navajo Nation vice president Jonathan Nez

Continuing his obsession with undoing the legacy of President Barack Obama, Trump has now rescinded President Obama’s designation of protected land at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two national monuments in Utah.

Bears Ears will go from 1.3 million protected acres down to 220,000 while Grand Staircase goes from 1.9 million to 1 million.

The land has been the home of multiple Native American tribes for generations, who pushed the government for the protective designation. Trump’s order will leave thousands of sacred sites without protection.

The decision was resoundingly decried by Native American groups, who asked the administration to keep the Obama-era designations. When the move was first reported, Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni councilman and Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Co-Chair, said it showed “complete disregard for Sovereign Tribes with ancestral connections to the region.”

The tribal government of Navajo Nation plans to sue Trump over the decision, and CNN reported that they had voted 163-3 against the move.

Navajo Nation vice president Jonathan Nez pointed out that Trump’s actions are in line with the disregard he recently showed toward Navajo code talkers. When those veterans appeared at the White House to be honored, Trump decided to drag out his “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Nez explained that, with the designation coming one week “after President Trump … mentioned the Pocahontas deal,” the announcement was “another troubling action by the White House.”

NEZ: One of the things that I want to say is, today marks one week after President Trump mentioned the Pocahontas deal, and now we’re looking at another troubling action by the White House. And it’s just – it’s a sad day. It’s a sad day in Indian country, it’s a sad day for Americans, to where president says that the law of the land, and Antiquities Act is the law of the land, but he is overstepping his own authority by doing this type of action and it’s quite saddening to see this happen today here in the state of Utah.

Instead of acknowledging the reality of his actions, Trump gave another one of his signature, unfocused speeches to mark the occasion.

He claimed that “public lands will once again be for public use” after the proclamation was signed, ignoring the wishes of the Native American community and indulging in the fantasy he so often has used to insulate himself from criticism with.

Trump’s zeal for undoing President Obama’s legacy, combined with his own open bigotry and hatred, has now placed Native Americans and the land they hold dear in the administration’s crosshairs.


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