American Indian tribes seek greater voice in grizzly management

Editor’s note:

This story is part of the Lee Enterprises series “Grizzlies and Us.” The project examines the many issues surrounding the uneasy coexistence of grizzly bears and humans in the Lower 48, which have come more into focus in recent years as the federallyprotected animal pushes farther into human-occupied areas. The 10-part series, comprised of more than 20 stories, was produced by reporters and photojournalists across the Rocky Mountain West.

Deep cultural ties dating back thousands of years connect Indigenous people to grizzly bears through myth, culture and law.

The Hopi Tribe see grizzly bears, known as Hoonaw, as a healer and medicine man.

“He is our uncle,” said Benjamin Nuvamsa, elder of the Hopi Bear Clan and director of the Global Indigenous Council. “He plays a central role in the traditions, ceremonies and the sovereignty of the native people. I do not know of a tribal nation that does not hold the grizzly in high regard.”

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