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Native Americans, others gather in Bears Ears to celebrate Biden's announcement

Posted at 8:47 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 22:47:12-04

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah — While Utah's congressional delegates are unhappy with President Joe Biden restoring the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, there are many in southern Utah who are celebrating.

READ: Utah expected to sue over Biden's monument proclamations

People from all walks of life came together Friday at Moki Dugway, which is again part of Bears Ears, to celebrate the president's decision.

It was a very important moment to the native people in those lands.

"This is a small piece of land that we are fighting for," said Mary Benally, a board member of Utah Dine Bikeyah. "I really can’t find the words; it's just a lot of excitement... Finally, the president of the United States acknowledged what we were striving for."

"I just burst out into tears because it's a wonderful thing," San Juan County Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy added.

Ryan Gellert, the CEO of Patagonia, played a critical role in the push to restore the boundaries. And despite his invitation to the White House, he chose to be in the monument with others who fought so hard.

"It's just so obvious looking at this landscape why that’s absolutely critical," he said. "To be here and with my son on this momentous occasion was a really, really incredible moment."

Those at the celebration say this land needs to be preserved for future generations.

"It makes us so happy that their kids and their grandkids will the beauty and the spiritual heritage," Maryboy said.

"I would like to thank people thought this nation. Thank you very much," Benally added.

They also said they know the fight is not over, but they are willing to do anything to protect this land.