Rose’s dream “Bears Ears Warriors” is to teach urban Native American students about tribal sovereignty and Bears Ears Monument and why they need to know this to protect tribal rights.
“Most students have never experienced traditional life on a reservation – living without running water and electricity for an extended period of time,” she said.
Bears Ears National Monument is located in San Juan County, Utah. The designation to protect more than 1.3 million acres of land surrounding Bears Ears was established by President Obama in 2016, but that protection was reduced by 85 percent to just over 200,000 acres by President Trump the following year. The area within the monument is largely undeveloped and contains a wide array of historic, cultural and natural resources.
The monument is named “Bears Ears” for a pair of buttes with an elevation of 8,700 feet. Legal scholars have argued that the reduction is not authorized by law, and several federal lawsuits have been filed challenging Trump’s action.
Rose’s great-grandfather “To’bijeshtezhi” (One who sleeps near water) was a “hatalii” (medicine man/singer) who lived in and around Bears Ears and healed people with ceremonies.
The original Bears Ears Monument designation would have helped eliminate problems such as looting and the digging of artifacts in the area.
“Now it’s turning into a tug-of-war for natural resources that the state of Utah wants to profit off of, instead of listing to Indian Nations that the United States made treaties with.”
Rose’s Home and Community
Rose, 20, (Navajo and Northern Ute), is an artist in residence in the Nebo (Utah) School District and also volunteers with the Nebo Title VI Indian Education Program (where she learned about the Dreamstarter® program) as a tutor, dance, hand drum, singing, physical education and art instructor. Rose lives in the city of Spanish Fork, which is the Ute Tribe’s homeland.
“My ancestors have inhabited this valley for centuries until they were relocated to the eastern portion of Utah, but I feel their spirit is still here, their strength and resilience,” she told us. “I pray that I am as strong as they are in keeping tribal traditions alive.”
What motivated Rose to develop this dream?
Rose admired how passionate her older brother and his wife were about protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sioux land and the rallies they attended and introduced her to. The couple had also taken a week off of work and school in November 2016 to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to help out.
“Hearing their stories and experience really made me think,” said Rose. “Bears Monument, Standing Rock battles and tribal sovereignty are big issues that impact not only Tribal Nations, but all people.
The Dream as a Solution
“I am shocked and concerned as a young person,” Rose told us. “I have been reading, researching, attending local gatherings about this topic and even attended the capitol legislative sessions to track and monitor state bills about Bears Ears.
“Where I can really help is with teaching and talking with young American Indian students that I mentor and come in contact with, many who do not know about current issues like Bears Ears Monument that can impact our community and Tribal Sovereignty.”
Throughout the year, Native youth will participate in campouts at Monument Valley, attend Camp Eagle Summer School where they will have environmental and nature classes, and hear from Native American speakers, and more.
During the three-day campout in Monument Valley, youth will experience life in a “hogan” (the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people), forage for traditional foods and medicines in the Bears Ears area and help Diné elders with livestock.
In addition, they will build a “shadehouse” (a gathering place made of tree trunks for posts and leafy branches for cover), butcher, prepare and cook traditional foods, haul in water, herd sheep and learn from traditional elders.
In June, during the Camp Eagle Summer School, Rose will facilitate a week-long Bears Ears class and bring in speakers who will share information about the legal, cultural, environmental and archaeological aspects of Bears Ears Monument.
“This summer school will provide information about Native history, treaties, traditions, Utah American Indian life, and current events such as Bears Ears, Standing Rock and environmental workshops and classes. We can continue to share these services with students through afterschool programs and Native clubs during the school year.”
The Potential Impact in the Future
Rose wants to share what she has learned with Native youth and her community which will help them be more aware of environmental issues “and help us protect the natural resources we have.”
“We need to get involved and give a Native perspective about why Bears Ears is so important and teach about Native American contributions to society.”