About Bears Ears National Monument
Arguably one of the most diverse and spectacular landscapes on earth, the Bears Ears region is filled with remarkable places worth preserving for future generations. Bears Ears is home to more than 100,000 Native American archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred by many tribes.
Several southwestern tribes trace their ancestry to the ancient peoples who populated the region since time immemorial, building ancient roads, shrines, pit houses, pueblos, great houses, kivas, and cliff dwellings – the remains of which still grace the landscape today. Bountiful rock paintings and petroglyphs also decorate cliffs and boulders throughout the region.
The vast majority of the archaeological and cultural sites in the area have been dated by western archaeologists to at least 700 years old (with some dated as far back as 12,000 B.C.E.), though tribal peoples of the Colorado Plateau trace their connections here back much farther, since time immemorial.
Protection of all these sacred sites is critically important to Native American people. Ongoing looting, grave robbing, vandalism, and destruction of cultural sites are acts that literally rob Native American people of spiritual connections, as well as a sense of place and history.
Native American connections to Bears Ears aren’t just about protecting the past. Many Native Americans visit the area on a regular basis for ceremonies and to connect with their ancestors. The Navajo Nation and the White Mesa Ute Reservation border Bears Ears on the south and east, respectively. Navajo and Ute people frequent the land to collect herbs and medicine, forage for food (such as piñon nuts), gather firewood for heating and ceremonial use, and to hunt game.