Tribal Leaders Plan Summit For Denver In Wake Of National Monument Changes

Jan 22, 2018

Public lands are in the spotlight following the Trump administration’s decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah by 2 million acres. Both monuments included tribal land.

As the the 2018 Outdoor Retailers Summer Market gears up for its opening in Denver this July, tribal leaders have planned a summit — including the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and NativesOutdoors — to discuss public lands management, outdoor recreation and new opportunities to collaborate.

Len Necefer is a member of the Navajo nation and lead organizer of the summit. Here are some takeaways from our interview with him.

On the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the sizes of national monuments:

Necefer: It’s very predictable, and it’s not to be unexpected. I think just the opportunity that’s presented now, especially around Bears Ears, is that it’s affecting non-native people as well. And so one of the opportunities I’ve been able to leverage is to build these coalitions between climbers, or mountain bikers, or distance runners, and to build the bridges between communities.

On the summit’s potential to bring together federal, state and tribal leaders:

Necefer: I think it’s unfortunate, the steps that the President has taken to rescind Bear’s Ears and also the Utah congressional delegation has not been very supportive of tribes, not have they taken steps to consult with tribes about this issue. Part of what the opportunity that this has provided is the outdoor community, the outdoor industry, and tribes find themselves on the same side of this issue. But also, for the state of Colorado, it provides an opportunity to demonstrate what it’s like to work as partners on these critical issues of land management.

… I think the discussion about how this happens, specifically around public lands, hasn’t quite yet occurred. And so, we’re looking to get folks, policy makers, both tribal, federal, and State, into the same room to discuss what this looks like moving forward.

And also, folks in the industry, because the user groups are a critical piece of that equation as well. The show moving to Colorado is significant in that it also provides an opportunity to showcase the ways in which these issues can be approached.

On the effects on non-native people:

Necefer: And so one of the opportunities I’ve been able to leverage is to build these coalitions between climbers, or mountain bikers, or distance runners, and to build the bridges between communities.