Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears
Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears
Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears
Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears
Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears

Common Ground: The Story of Bears Ears

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    • Directed by: Paige Sparks
    • Released: 2020 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2019
Running Time: 78 min
Language: English
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Indigenous Studies, American Studies, Environmental Studies


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politicians who, declaring government overreach and unnecessary restrictions to the land, demanded the monument to be rescinded.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.

Official Selection at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2020
About the filmmaker 
Paige grew up in Park City, Utah with the Uintah’s in her back yard. Camping, exploring, and recreating shaped who she is today. With natural landscapes in jeopardy, Paige needed to find a way to give back.

In college she developed an interest in documentary filmmaking and made her debut as an associate producer for shows on National Geographic, Discovery, and Outdoor channel. In 2013, she worked as a producer for short and long format documentaries featured on KUED, the local PBS affiliate in Salt Lake City. Her films have won various awards including a Silver Telly and two Rocky Mountain Emmys. When she’s not making films she spends her time camping with her husband and two dogs, Sam and Jack.


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