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Controversial Former Interior Secretary Slammed After His Tone-Deaf Official Portrait Is Unveiled

Controversial Former Interior Secretary Slammed After His Tone-Deaf Official Portrait Is Unveiled
William Campbell/Getty Images

Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke unveiled his official portrait and, true to form, it seemed oddly focused on one of his most controversial acts while in office.

Though the artist appeared to paint Zinke's hat on backwards (something Zinke did in real life), that was not the most outrageous part of the picture.

The portrait showed Zinke riding a horse through Bears Ears National Monument, an Obama-era national monument in Utah that many Native American tribes hold sacred.

Zinke toured the monument in May 2017 alongside a group of its critics who pitched him on dismantling protections for the sacred site.

Zinke later gave the Bear Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (a partnership of five tribes that petitioned for the monument's designation) a one-hour meeting.

Shortly thereafter, according to Huffpost:

"Trump shrunk the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears boundary by 85% and the nearby 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument roughly in half, opening the door for oil, gas and other development across large areas of previously protected lands."

Before being forced to resign in 2018 due to a laundry list of ethics scandals, Zinke became well known for dismantling Bears Ears, the first national monument designated at the request of Native American tribes to honor their heritage.

The artist who painted Zinke's portrait said that he included the band around the former Secretary's hat as "a nod to [Zinke's] respect of the native Americans tribes."

That respect seemed somewhat undercut, however, by the portraits much more noticeable setting.

None of this, of course, even begins to touch upon Zinke's "unofficial" portrait, which features the former Secretary in a fiery battle with several snakes, wielding an axe in a pretty obvious ripoff of Frank Frazetta's "Death Dealer VI."

Zinke's portrait will ensure that people remember him for his most unpopular, divisive action.