Utah Diné Bikéyah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah Diné Bikéyah, pronounced di-NAY bi-KAY-yuh, can literally be translated from the Navajo language to “the people’s sacred lands.”
Founded in 2012, Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB) works to elevate indigenous land conservation and advocacy through community organizing—an effort that in 2016 delivered the first Native American-led National Monument designation in American history. The 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument happened thanks to the leadership of the five sovereign nations of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition: Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni with support from UDB and many allies.
Guided by an all-Native Board of Directors, UDB focuses on engaging and mobilizing local communities to protect sacred ancestral lands within Utah’s Colorado Plateau region. The result has been an unprecedented alliance of Native communities united in the vision of permanently protecting this living cultural landscape for future generations of all people.
UDB’s overall mission is to bring healing to the Earth and the people while protecting Ancestral Native American Lands and preserving Indigenous language and culture. By serving as a model for land stewardship built on traditional knowledge, Bears Ears promises to generate opportunities for Native people locally, and inspire other indigenous communities. The designation provides sustainable economic development opportunities for local people through monument management, through the arts, traditional food, and planning for the future.
UDB’s Program areas include:
- Indigenous Land-Use Planning
- Diné, Ute, and Pueblo Community Outreach
- Traditional Foods
- the Arts
- Native Youth
- Bears Ears Defense and litigation
UDB’s long-term vision is to:
- support tribal members who value their heritage,
- encourage tribal governments to celebrate traditions,
- link indigenous practice directly to the natural resources we depend upon, and
- ensure natural resources are sustainably managed by federal agencies.
“Today, instead of being removed from a landscape to make way for a public park, we are being invited back to our ancestral homelands to help repair them and plan for a resilient future. We are being asked to apply our traditional knowledge to both the natural and human-caused ecological challenges, drought, erosion, visitation, etc. What can be a better avenue of restorative justice than giving Tribes the opportunity to participate in the management of lands their ancestors were removed from?”– Carleton Bowekaty, lieutenant governor of the Zuni Pueblo on the Federal government’s historic agreement with tribes to help manage Bears Ears.
Written by Michele Gielis
For more information:
Community farm/gardens/land trusts
Direct Relief and Aid
Fighting industrial contamination
Halting bad development
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