Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) came under fire this week for claiming that the inclusion of the grizzly bear of Yellowstone National Park on the endangered species list is an attack on "our Western way of life." Native tribes lobbied to ensure the bear's inclusion. (Photo: Ania Tuzel Photography/Flickr/cc)

Indigenous Groups Applaud Protection of Grizzly Bear as Liz Cheney Claims Rule Harms 'Western Way of Life'

"Liz Cheney is very upset that the people whose land was taken have interfered with the people who took the land."

Julia Conley

Native tribes and their supporters on Friday defended their push for the continued inclusion of the grizzly bear of Yellowstone National Park on the endangered species list, after Rep. Liz Cheney claimed the protection of the bear violates the "Western way of life."

The bear was officially returned to the list created by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Tuesday, nearly a year after a federal judge found that the Trump administration had exceeded its authority when it attempted to remove the species.

"I would remind the congresswoman that at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition an estimated 100,000 grizzly bears roamed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast...Now there are fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears and our people live in Third World conditions on meager reservations in the poorest counties in the U.S. Does she really want to talk about 'destroying' a 'way of life'?"
—Tom Rodgers, RMTLC
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sought to allow trophy hunters to shoot the Yellowstone bears, whose population in the park is just over 700, and to open up the public lands for fossil fuel industries. Native tribes including the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes joined with the Humane Society and Wildearth Guardians to fight the administration.

When the bear was officially returned to the list this week, Wyoming Republican Cheney claimed that the so-called "radical" groups were "intent on destroying our Western way of life" and had pushed for a rule that was "needless and harmful to the ecosystem."

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC), which testified at a congressional hearing in May on the Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act, took issue with Cheney's suggestion that hunters and oil companies' desire to profit off the demise of the grizzly bear trumps the heritage of native tribes and the need for biodiversity.

"So, in striving to protect our culture, our religious and spiritual freedoms, our sovereignty, and our treaty rights—all of which are encapsulated in the grizzly issue—we are 'destroying' Cheney's idea of the 'Western way of life'?" Tom Rodgers, senior adviser to the RMTLC, told Native News Online.

"I would remind the congresswoman that at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition an estimated 100,000 grizzly bears roamed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast," he added. "That was all Indian Country. Now there are fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears and our people live in Third World conditions on meager reservations in the poorest counties in the U.S. Does she really want to talk about 'destroying' a 'way of life'?" asked Rodgers.

Progressive congressional candidate Mckayla Wilkes was among the critics who took to social media to slam Cheney's comments, calling them "absolutely surreal" considering the centuries-long and continued destruction of Native tribes' "way of life" by numerous government policies.

As Native News Online reported, the USFWS worked closely with the fossil fuel services company Amec Wheeler Foster—whose CEO is a former executive of Halliburton, the multinational company whose Cheney's father led in the 1990s—to conduct a peer review of its proposed rule de-listing the bear.

"That puts 'harmful to the ecosystem' into its true context," Rodgers told the outlet.

Cheney introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act earlier this year to de-list the bear through congressional action.

As Rodgers told Native News Online, however, "There's more chance of her father receiving the Nobel Peace Prize than her Grizzly Bear State Management Act reaching the House floor."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Utterly Obscene': Just 8 Pfizer and Moderna Investors Became $10 Billion Richer After Omicron Emerged

"Pharma execs and shareholders are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create," said one justice campaigner.

Jon Queally ·


Ilhan Omar Calls Kevin McCarthy 'A Liar and a Coward' for Refusing to Condemn Boebert's Islamophobia

"This is who they are," said the Minnesota Democrat. "And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry."

Jon Queally ·


'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·


Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo