Ute Indian Tribe Not Happy About Biden's New National Monument

Native American tribe says it was not on board with the plan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
Updated Oct 14, 2022 2:31 AM CDT
Biden Designates His First National Monument
President Biden speaks before designating the first national monument of his administration at Camp Hale, a World War II era training site, Wednesday near Leadville, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Update: A Utah-based Native American tribe that has frequently sparred with President Biden criticized the White House again for not adequately consulting its leaders ahead of this week's creation of a national monument on ancestral lands in Colorado, the AP reports. The Ute Indian Tribe is one of three Ute tribes in the US West that share ancestral ties but operate independently. Representatives from the other two in Colorado—the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute—were on board with the plan and attended Wednesday's ceremony with Biden but didn't speak on stage. But the Ute Indian Tribe, which has nearly 3,000 members on lands in an area known for oil and gas operations in eastern Utah, claimed in a news release issued late Wednesday night that it wasn't on board with the plan (More here.) Our original story from Wednesday follows:

President Biden designated the first national monument of his administration at Camp Hale, a World War II-era training site in Colorado, as he called for protecting "treasured lands" that tell the story of America. The announcement is a boost to the state's senior Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, who has for years advocated for the designation and is in a competitive reelection bid this November. The location is an alpine training site where US soldiers prepared for battles in the Italian Alps during World War II, the AP reports. "We're doing it not just for today, but for all the ages," Biden said Wednesday, standing amid the rugged, sun-drenched backdrop flanked by mountains as far as the eye could see.

"It’s for the people of Colorado, but it also goes well beyond the people of Colorado. It’s for all the people across America and the world," Biden said. The proclamation formally establishes the Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument, spanning more than 53,800 acres that will be protected and managed by the US Forest Service. Many members of the 10th Mountain Division who trained at Camp Hale returned to Colorado after the war and helped create the state’s lucrative ski industry, and the site is now used for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, and is home to rare wildlife.

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"Soldiers in Camp Hale learned to scale rock, ski, and survive, preparing for the war they were about to fight," said Biden, who was joined by two veterans from the 10th Mountain Division for Wednesday's announcement. He praised the troops' "skill, strength, and stamina that could've been only gained in a place like this." While most national monuments protect extraordinary natural landscapes, there are at least 12 other military sites designated as national monuments by other presidents. In a separate move, the Biden administration, citing a need to protect wildlife, also announced Wednesday it is pausing new mining and oil and gas drilling on 225,000 acres of public land in the Thompson Divide, a natural gas-rich area not far from Camp Hale. (Read more national monuments stories.)

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