By KIM JARRETT
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden’s dedication of Colorado’s Camp Hale as a national monument is a “disgrace” to the ancestors of the Ute Indian Tribe, members of the tribe said.
President Biden used the Antiquities Act to designate the Camp Hale Continental Divide National Monument on Tuesday. The 1906 Act gives the president the authority to designate lands as national monuments.
Camp Hale was the home of the Ute Indian Tribe’s Uncompahgre Band before it was forced off the land in 1880, according to a news release from the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. The Ute Tribe now resides on reservations in northeastern Utah.
The Ute Tribe learned about the designation just four days before Biden’s news conference on Wednesday, according to the news release. President Biden worked with other tribes but did not give the Ute Tribe time to engage in conversations about the designation.
“It is a disgrace to our ancestors to exclude the Tribe in the care and protection of these burial sites,” members of the business committee said in a news release. “We are shocked that 200 years later, nothing has changed. This unlawful action by the president today is a desecration of our ancestors that remain buried on our homelands.”
The Ute Tribe said President Biden is not living up to a commitment he made in 2021 to honor tribal sovereignty.
“While the President is out here in Colorado on our traditional homelands, his administration is refusing to address ongoing attacks on our current homelands in Utah,” members of the business committee said. “First they took our lands in Colorado, and now they won’t address our lands at home.”
Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee and Uncompahgre Band Member, said the tribe plans to take action.
“These new monuments are an abomination and demonstrate manifest disregard and disrespect of the Ute Indian Tribe’s treaty rights and sovereign status as a federally recognized Indian Tribe,” Mr. Chapoose said. “If it’s a fight they want it’s a fight they will get.”
The Ute Indian Tribe is asking Congress to hold hearings about their concerns.
“We hear all these headlines about actions for Indian tribes, but where is this administration on securing our homelands, increasing law enforcement to protect our communities, protecting our waters, and defending our lands and resources in federal court,” the business committee said in its news release. “All too often the secretary and assistant secretary (of the Interior) are chasing their own priorities and not the priorities of Indian tribes. Or, even worse, they are often sitting on the wrong side of the table and not fulfilling the president’s commitments and solemn trust responsibility to Indian country.”