Monumental decision: All eyes look to Interior Secretary Jewell on divisive Bears Ears issue

This is big, raw countryside with tumbling landscapes of jutting Navajo sandstone cliffs bleached by grueling heat and sprawling bluffs that rise proud and angry from a sagebrush floor.

There is nothing diminutive in this bold and unforgiving land that is so overwhelmingly expansive and complex one can lose a sense of time and being — wrapped in serene beauty that can suddenly turn harsh.

It is that way with the emotions wrapped up in the possible designation of a Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County, Utah people divided like the high desert plains and rising bluffs.

There’s little in between that “space” between getting a new monument or not handing the federal government more control of the land.

Like the wind that gusts across Highway 191 between Bluff and Monticello, people are whipped into a frenzy over a tribal coalition’s request to President Barack Obama to use his power under the Antiquities Act to create a 1.9 million acre national monument for the Bears Ears region.

A majority of Native American tribal members who live in the Four Corners region claim ancestral and modern-day connections to the land, and they’re tired of the looting, the vandalism, weary of oil and gas development that threatens their landscape, of potash or uranium mining that may alter the land.

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