“Native Americans Speak”

President Donald Trump is calling for the largest rollback in protected public lands in the history of this country, and a coalition of Native Tribes and conservation groups is spearheading resistance.

Working with that resistance is Clayton Daughenbaugh, a speaker at Native Americans Speak on Aug. 25 at Shore Acres Park in Chillicothe.

Daughenbaugh, Midwest organizer for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said two million public comments were filed regarding Trump’s revocation of protected status for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, and 98 percent opposed removal of protected status.

Native Tribes and conservation groups sued over Trump’s action and the case is expected to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the case of Bears Ears, Native American sovereign issues are a factor, Daughenbaugh said. Five Native American tribal governments requested President Barack Obama issue the protected status.

Seven Circles Heritage Center is sponsoring Daughenbaugh and the Aug. 25 event. One of the event organizers, Eliida Lakota, said the daylong program runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will focus on First Nation issues: protecting and preserving land, water concerns at Standing Rock, cultural traditions and languages. There will be storytelling, art activities, food and music. A pow wow will be held at 2 p.m. with singing and dancing.

Daughenbaugh said conservationists have a saying that losses can happen once and land is lost permanently, but victories must be achieved over and over because someone comes along and tries to rescind protected status to fascilitate development and extraction of minerals and natural resources.

“Once a place is saved, we have to go back and save it again,” he said, noting that large, intact public lands are increasingly important to preserve.

“These lands are part of our national heritage,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., met with the Southern Utah Wilderness Coalition and issued this statement: “President Trump’s decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments puts the future of these resources in jeopardy and threatens our culture, history, and heritage. And news reports that drilling and mining were at the forefront of his decision making – as opposed to protection of the natural, historic landscapes – constitutes as a breach of his responsibility both to those who founded this nation and those who will inherit it. I will continue fighting alongside the Utah Wilderness Coalition to preserve our country’s most important national monuments.”

Also speaking at Native Americans Speak Aug. 25 will be Larry Lockwood, a singer and storyteller from the Cheyenne Nation in Montana. Storytelling is a traditional form of communication for Native American cultures.

Native Americans Speak is free and open to the public. In addition to Seven Circles Heritage Center, sponsors include Illinois Arts Council and Chillicothe Park District.

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