"Bears Ears has been home to Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and other Indigenous people since time immemorial. The Bears Ears cultural landscape is important not just for objects of antiquity and fossils studied by scientists, but for the continuation of our Indigenous cultures and our way of life," tribal leaders said in a statement on Friday.
The move is part of a broader trend in Trump's first year in office of rolling back parts of Obama's legacy -- and of lambasting presidents past of both parties.
Conservative groups quickly praised Trump's action, while liberal organizations and lawmakers responded with scorn as they prepped lawsuits to block the move.
"Antiquities designations have stripped economic opportunities away from communities," Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation said in a statement.
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, in a letter to Zinke, criticized the move.
Trump's decision "puts the future of these resources in jeopardy and threatens our culture, history, and heritage. And if President Donald Trump decides to use the Antiquities Act to reverse one of these monuments, he is going to be treading in uncharted waters," Durbin told Zinke. "These monuments are for all of us, and we must ensure that they remain in their natural condition for current and future generations to enjoy."
Last December, upon making the national monument designations, Obama said the move would "help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes."
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GRAPHIC (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Monuments