Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

International Studies BA



First Advisor

Heather Stur, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



In 2015, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition of the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni Tribes submitted a proposal to President Barack Obama for the creation of Bears Ears National Monument. In 2016, using the power given to the president in the Antiquities Act, President Obama issued a presidential proclamation establishing the monument. But in 2017, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation that significantly reduced the acreage of the monument. Bears Ears is located in the southeast corner of Utah, and is a remote and geographically unique area of land that holds historical, cultural, and religious significance for many Native American tribes. This paper explores the creation and modification of the monument, the controversy over the president’s authority to create, reduce, and revoke national monuments, and the international applications of the Bears Ears story. The argument of this paper is that the original borders of Bears Ears National Monument should be restored because the authority to alter a national monument rests with Congress, not the president, and because Bears Ears is the beginning of an era of integrating land conservation with social and environmental justice.