Grassroots upon the land
July 19, 2016
"Treat the earth well: It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." –Native American proverb
Figuratively, they took it to the streets. They sang, danced, and waved signs. They turned the practice of democracy into a party and, by the end of the week, had "counted coup."
As anyone who attended Dana Williams' call-to-arms rally outside City Hall last Wednesday could tell you, there's really nothing quite like immersing oneself in a grassroots cause that — in one's own mind, anyway — features David versus Goliath overtones.
In the end, unable to sway the City Council and recognizing the passion of the community on the issue involved, Vail withdrew its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name "Park City." The big guy winced and the afterglow was priceless.
Meanwhile, other activists were applying game faces to continue their longtime battle with the State of Utah over land use. A visit by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to the Bluff Community Center for a public meeting on the proposed "Bears Ears National Monument" held center stage.
With Utah's congressional delegation and most all the county commissions within the proposed boundaries of the Monument on record as opposing its creation coupled with a growing consensus from outside the area in favor of President Obama invoking the Antiquities Act, passionate discourse ruled the day.
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A couple of interesting sidebars hovered over the pow wow. One had both sides using the U.S. Government's long history of broken treaties with Native American tribal entities to bolster their side of the argument.
Supporters saw the creation of a monument in which tribes would share management as a way of payback for the "forked tongue" past. Opponents just don't trust the feds and feel if payback is due anyone, it's them.
All this, of course, while the Republicans gathering in Cleveland have included in their platform not only a moratorium on the creation of additional national parks and monuments but also the return of existing ones to the states.
Another late-arriving elephant in the room is the long-simmering Utah Public Land Initiative forged by U.S. Congressional Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz (with, seemingly, major input from the aforementioned county commissions and the fossil fuel industry).
"Too-little-too-late" has been the reception among Monument proponents. Not enough protection for lands held sacred within tribal communities, is also a reaction echoing through the canyon country.
To be sure, this is a political issue. It has been suggested by opponents that if, say, a monument were to be created prior to the November election, Hillary Clinton might well lose Utah. Oh no, say it ain't so!
I still have trouble getting my head around the notion that, even as much as Trump has insulted Romney and by inference Mormonism, Hillary has a snowball's chance in hell of carrying the state. That being said, I can't see any possible advantage to the Democrats if President Obama were to haul out the Antiquities Act before its time.
Although I don't pretend for a moment to be a political pundit or prognosticator with much of a winning track record, I do sense a bit of momentum swinging toward Bears Ears National Monument becoming a reality.
Obviously, I'm betting with my heart here but I do believe historical justice would be better served if the pendulum were to swing to the progressive land use side of the equation. Of course, the white male Christian demographic is praying it swings the other direction.
Then there is the "Mountain Accord." Although I haven't followed the evolution of its current "language" as much as during the earlier stages of the process, my initial thought on the matter is, how protective of the central Wasatch could it be if Rep. Chaffetz recently introduced a version to congress?
Admittedly, I have homework to do in that area. Which doesn't mean for a Heber-minute that, once completed, I will have a fair and balanced and unbiased view of the accord. If the "One Wasatch" interconnect has officially regained entrée through Grizzly Gulch or elsewhere, count me out!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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