The Big Picture

Bear Ears Buttes in Utah

Known as Bear Ears for the pair of purple buttes at the region’s center, the newly proclaimed 1.9 million-acre National Monument will preserve a photographer’s checklist of high-desert drama: spires, bridges, canyons. Yet the region’s true distinction is not its topography, but its cultural significance; perhaps no place in America is as rich with ancient Native American sites as Bear Ears. In October 2015, a coalition of five Indian nations, including the Hopi, Ute, and Navajo, formally proposed the monument, attempting to preserve the parcel’s 100,000 archeological sites from ongoing looting and grave robbing. Last June, in a letter to President Obama, more than 700 archeologists endorsed the proposal, saying that looting of the area’s many ancient kivas and dwellings was continuing “at an alarming pace” and calling Bear Ears “America’s most significant unprotected cultural landscape.” President Obama designated Bear Ears Butte and Gold Buttes in Nevada as protected National monuments at the end of last month. The incoming Trump administration, along with the Republican-controlled congress, and Utah state officials, could mount a legal challenge against that designation.--By European Pressphoto Agency
1
Muddy water fills a small slot canyon in the Bear Ears National Monument near Fry Canyon, Utah, USA on Nov.12. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
2
A nearly-full ‘supermoon’ rises at dusk above the Valley of the Gods in the Bear Ears National Monument. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
3
The 1000-year-old Wolfman Petroglyph Panel adorns a rockface within the Bear Ears National Monument near Bluff, Utah, (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
4
The sun sets on Cedar Mesa (top), while Utah Highway 261 (bottom) stretches into the distance in a car’s side mirror within the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
5
Two thousand-year-old petroglyphs carved into a rock panel known as ‘Newspaper Rock,’ part of Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, are within the boundaries of the Bear Ears National Monument near Monticello, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
6
Two trucks drive near U.S. Route 163 within the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
7
The Colorado River winds around the northern reaches of the Bear Ears National Monument (center), with Canyonlands National Park in the background, viewed from Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
8
The 8,700-foot-tall Bear Ears Buttes, namesake to the Bear Ears National Monument, are seen from Utah Highway 261 near Blanding, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
9
Sandstone formations rise from the Valley of the Gods under a full moon in the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
10
A long exposure picture shows moonlight illuminating four sharp bends in the San Juan River, viewed from Goosenecks State Park, in the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
11
A car travels along Utah Highway 261 across a sandstone valley known as the ‘Valley of the Gods’ in the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
12
Moonlight illuminates sandstone buttes in the Valley of the Gods in the proposed Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
13
Eight hundred-year-old Ancestral Pueblo ruins, known as ‘House on Fire Ruins’ for the smoldering color of its sandstone, are among the 100,000 archeological sites within the Bear Ears National Monument near Blanding, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
14
Two thousand-year-old petroglyphs carved into a rock panel known as ‘Newspaper Rock,’ in Bear Ears National Monument. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
15
The view from Cedar Mesa, which is within the Bear Ears National Monument, extends 18 miles (29 kilometers) south to the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (which is not part of the monument) near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
16
In a long-exposure image at night, car lights illuminate the Moki Dugway, a series of steep switchbacks that climb 1,200 feet (366 meters) from the Valley of the Gods to the top of Cedar Mesa in the Bear Ears National Monument near Mexican Hat, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
17
A Navajo woman sells jewelry from the hood of her car to raise money for her daughter, in the framed photograph, to make a class trip within the Bear Ears National Monument near Monticello, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
18
The moon rises above the Colorado River as it winds around the northern reaches of the Bear Ears National Monument near Moab, Utah. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
19
A nearly-full ‘supermoon’ rises at dusk above the Valley of the Gods in the Bear Ears National Monument. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
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