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Major Native American site being looted. Will Obama risk armed conflict to save it?

Major Native American site being looted. Will Obama risk armed conflict to save it?

The Washington Post

RIM OF CEDAR MESA, Utah — For centuries, humans have used the red sandstone canyons here as a way to mark their existence.

First came archaic hunter-gatherers who worked in Glen Canyon Linear, a crude geometrical style dating back more than 3,500 years. Then about 2,000 years later, early ancestral Pueblo farmers of the Basketmaker period used more subtle lines to produce a man in headdress. A little more than 700 years ago came their descendants, who used the same kind of hard river stone to make drawings of bighorn sheep and a flute player in the ancient rock.

Now, President Obama is weighing whether and how he can leave his own permanent imprint on history by designating about 2 million acres of land, known as the Bears Ears, as a national monument.

And despite the uniformly acknowledged historical significance of the area, some people regard the conservation efforts by the White House as classic federal overreach. In the current-era conflict between Washington and rural Westerners, the idea of a Bears Ears national monument has produced warnings of a possible armed insurrection.

In a state where the federal government owns 65 percent of the land, many conservatives already resent existing restrictions because they bar development that could generate additional revenue. Out-of-state militias came to San Juan County two years ago, when Commissioner Phil Lyman helped lead an all-terrain-vehicle protest ride through a canyon the Bureau of Land Management had closed to motorized traffic in 2007. Lyman is appealing the 10-day jail sentence he received in connection with the protest, and he argues that his case shows how BLM officials place the priorities of environmentalists over those of local residents.

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