On December 28th, 2016, former President Obama protected nearly 1.5 million acres of sprawling canyon lands and ancient cultural sites in southeast Utah by designating the area as Bears Ears National Monument.
Politically, Native American groups and environmentalists applauded the designation. However, it infuriated some locals and state politicians who, declaring government overreach and unnecessary restrictions to the land, demanded the monument to be rescinded. As a result, President Trump signed a proclamation reducing the size of the monument by 85 percent. Environmental groups and tribal governments have responded by filing a host of lawsuits against the Trump administration.
Locally, the controversy has divided the community and riled longstanding cultural tensions. While this political debate unfolds in the national spotlight, this project seeks to transcend the rhetoric, following diverse characters living in San Juan County and their relationships with the land.
The film’s goal is to humanize this polarizing issue, depicting the deep pull within us all to connect with our wild lands. It seeks to bring clarity to the complex and divisive arguments surrounding Bears Ears, revealing the common ground between opposing ideologies: love and awe of a beloved land.