This concluding chapter gives a nod in the direction of successful negotiated settlements and other agreements that grab fewer headlines and leave fewer public traces because they can avoid the courts altogether and proceed in the context of the nation-to-nation relationship. For an example, it turns to the newly created and recently embattled Bears Ears National Monument, a collaboratively managed preserve of sacred lands, cultural landscapes, and traditional knowledge in southern Utah. Since the quiet goal for most Native people is to protect what is sacred to them without calling attention to themselves, the best outcomes for Native American religious freedom are so far beyond the First Amendment and its legal counterparts, they can remain entirely off line. Here, the story of Bears Ears is less the story of the Obama administration than it is the story of decades of activism and the concerted strategic efforts of a consortium of Native nations. When President Barack Obama designated 1.35 million acres of southeast Utah lands as Bears Ears National Monument, he authorized a new experiment in cooperation, even collaboration, between the United States and Native nations in safeguarding sacred lands.
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