Why Pray for the Stewardship of Public Lands now?
The Trump Administration is actively considering rolling back protections for Native American heritage and God’s creation. US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has made a proposal for the biggest rollback of public land protections in U.S. history.
Call to Prayer
Suggested Words for Prayers
Calls to Action
During Native American Heritage Month, we pray for divine wisdom for the caretakers of our nation’s public lands. Public lands safeguard the natural, cultural, and spiritual heritage of Indigenous peoples, and these lands are entrusted to our collective stewardship. May our nation's decision-makers honor Indigenous peoples by protecting our public lands.
During November, which is Native American Heritage Month, we pray for our nation’s decision-makers who are responsible for public lands. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the natural, spiritual and cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples on public lands. We especially lift up prayers for public lands with national monument conservation protections: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon, Gold Butte in Nevada, Organ Mountains Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments in New Mexico, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England, the Pacific Remote Islands near Hawaii, and Rose Atoll near American Samoa.
Christian Education & Liturgical Resources
Creation Justice Ministries' 2017 Earth Day Sunday Resource, "Environmental Justice with Indigenous Peoples" includes education and liturgical resources. Find it at www.creationjustice.org/indigenous
All of these National Monuments conserve antiquities important to Indigenous peoples. On August 24, 2017 Secretary Zinke delivered a set of recommendations to President Trump. He has recommended diminishing size or conservation protections for: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon, Gold Butte in Nevada, Organ Mountains Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments in New Mexico, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England, the Pacific Remote Islands near Hawaii, and Rose Atoll near American Samoa. Zinke's recommendations have been evaluated by the Congressional Research Service. The New York Times created a useful list that clearly lays out what is at stake in Zinke's recommendations.
One of the monuments of particular concern is the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Religious communities worked extensively to support tribal efforts to establish the monument. Bears Ears is considered the ancestral land of five tribes, and each of those tribes hold parts of the monument as sacred. On December 28, 2016, because of the advocacy of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and Navajo, President Obama established Bears Ears National Monument as the first National Monument that primarily focuses on the spiritual, cultural, and natural heritage of tribes. In his Presidential Proclamation, President Obama appointed a Bears Ears Commission of Tribes to be the primary advisory body for the management of the Bears Ears National Monument. Secretary Zinke has ignored the Bears Ears Commission of Tribes' calls to uphold all conservation protections for Bears Ears. The elimination of protections for this land is not only disrespectful to the tribes, but also poses a threat to the future of the land. Without protections given to Bears Ears through its national monument status, the land is in danger of damage by extractive industries, grazing, and reckless visitors.
Now is the time to pray that God guides our nation's decision-makers. May they see the importance of the national monument protections for Indigenous heritage.