Native Americans See Trump’s Move to Reduce Bears Ears Monument in Utah as an Assault on Their Culture

Jonah Yellowman, a 66-year-old Navajo spiritual leader, gathers sage on Cedar Mesa not far from the base of the Bears Ears buttes in southeastern Utah in December 2018.(Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Jonah Yellowman, a 66-year-old Navajo spiritual leader, gathers sage on Cedar Mesa not far from the base of the Bears Ears buttes in southeastern Utah in December 2018.(Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Thick red mud clung to Jonah Yellowman’s boots as he sidestepped down the embankment into a narrow valley of sagebrush. When he spotted perfect stems — not too dry, not too long — he snapped them from the waist-high bushes.

Every few months for much of his life, the 66-year-old Navajo spiritual leader has trekked from his nearby home to this slice of land in southeastern Utah, not far from the base of the Bears Ears buttes, to gather sage. Throughout the year, he uses the plant in ceremonies, often sharing it with people seeking wisdom or health, or as a way to offer thanks.

“This is our land and our herb,” Yellowman said. “It has to be protected. It’s all we have.”

Last year, President Trump signed proclamations slashing the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and neighboring Grand Staircase-Escalante by about half, the largest combined rollback of federally protected land in the nation’s history.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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