Community Member

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 Timeline photo

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 Traditional Food Program

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:

5 Native American tribes will work with federal officials to co-manage Bears Ears National Monument, CNN, June 2022

Utah tribes secure co-management role for Bears Ears National Monument, The Salt Lake Tribune, June 2022

BLM, Forest Service and five tribes of the Bears Ears Commission commit to historic co-management of Bears Ears National Monument, Char-Koosta News, June 2022

Agreement with Native American Tribes Could Set Precedent, The Washington Post, June 2022

A new Salt Lake City gallery makes space for Indigenous artists to tell their stories, The Salt Lake Tribune, March 2022

Bears Ears supporters celebrate Biden’s restoration of Utah monuments at Cedar Mesa gathering, The Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 2021

Indigenous-led nonprofit asks to help federal investigation into abuses at Native American boarding schools, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 2021

Michele Gielis

Michele Gielis

Michele has spent the last decade helping nonprofits raise their voice for change. She looks to make action meaningful by connecting people to the technology and messages that bring resonance and resilience. Michele is proud to support the Anthropocene Alliance working to get communities to #HigherGround


Reem Ikram


Social Media

Climate Impacts

Air Pollution, Drought, Erosion-Subsidence, Heat, Mining, Water Contamination, Wildfires


Affordable Housing, Art Activism, Community Farm/Gardens, Community Land Trusts/Land Conservation, Direct Relief and Aid, Fighting Industrial Contamination, Green Infrastructure, Halting Bad Development, Nature-Based Solutions, Renewable Energy

501c3 Tax Deductible


Accepting Donations