Department or Program

Environmental Studies


The ongoing land debate in southeast Utah has recently resulted in the creation of two proposals for land management strategies that have sparked discussion: the Bears Ears National Monument Proposal and the opposing Public Lands Initiative, each of which offers a different conceptualization of sense of place. By analyzing the rhetoric of each proposal along with other news sources, this thesis first demonstrates how these two perspectives are fundamentally incompatible. While Native American tribes value the holistic, spiritual landscape of the Bears Ears that led them to pursue a monument designation, many supporters of the Public Lands Initiative value individual entities, allowing them to conceptualize the landscape as one capable of being divided into a multi-use system. Recreationalists and non-Indian Utah citizens also offer commentary on the debate, further complicating these conceptualizations of land, Secondly, this thesis comments on how sense of place is an emotional, personal notion that is independent of living in a space, noting the complexity of place making through mechanisms of history, culture and emotion. Ultimately, we as humans encounter limits to our own rhetoric that prevent us from fully articulating our sense of place and, as the case of the Bears Ears shows us, often creates discrepancies of conceptualization of land that are extremely difficult to reconcile.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Joe Hall

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.