Great Bend of the Gila

Op-Ed: Why the Great Bend of the Gila Matters, Barnaby V. Lewis and William H. Doelle, AZ Republic, 12/7/15

UPDATE, December 2015: Archaeology Southwest and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are pleased to release an in-depth study that provides a a historical and tribal perspective on the significance of the cultural resources and natural landscape encompassed within the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Proposal. Download the study (free PDF).

Great Bend Report Cover

UPDATE, August 2015: Join our effort to establish the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument by adding your signature to this letter. Add your voice to those of more than 100 professional and avocational archaeologists.

UPDATE, August 2014: Increased Protection of Archaeology and Historic Trails along Great Bend of the Gila Would Boost Local Economy, Boost Tourism

UPDATE, July 2014: Archaeology Southwest Acquires a Portion of Quail Point, an Exceptional Rock Art Site in the Great Bend of the Gila — view news release (opens as a PDF)

UPDATE, March 2014: Read about the National Treasures campaign to protect the Great Bend of the Gila at the website of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

UPDATE, July 2013: Municipal and tribal support for the proposed monument grows — article from the Yuma Sun, 07/16/13.

UPDATE, March 2013: Congressman Raúl Grijalva introduced a package of bills that included the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act.

History of Archaeology Southwest’s involvement (2009–present):

Archaeology Southwest has joined with a broad array of tribal, national and local partners in support of the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument proposal, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has identified the Great Bend as one of America’s National Treasures. The legislation introduced by Representative Raúl Grijalva seeks to preserve the essence of Arizona by managing an 84,000-acre area on public lands along the Gila River, from Robbins Butte in the Town of Buckeye in Maricopa County to Sears Point in Yuma County, as an integrated cultural landscape.

Why are we involved? The key word is heritage. This campaign encompasses the Great Bend of the Gila River, a cultural crossroads with a deep, rich, often overlooked past. Our role on the coalition is to raise awareness of the truly unique, nonrenewable resource that is the cultural landscape of the Great Bend. We produced a special issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine introducing the cultural legacy of the region.

For thousands of years, the Gila River in this area sustained the lives of travelers and residents alike. The river was essential to an extensive prehistoric trail network, Hohokam and Patayan settlements, European explorations, Euro-American stagecoach routes, homesteaders and ranchers, and early twentieth-century cross-country motorists.

Significantly, and because of its unique geology, the Great Bend region is rich with fragile traces of ancient life: petroglyphs, geoglyphs, foot trails, and other patterns etched in the desert pavement. All of these expressions in or on the rock landscape are greatly endangered.

We believe that the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument proposal would help to protect these and other special places of our shared past in the Great Bend for future generations.

On September 14, 2012, BLM Arizona State Director Ray Suazo signed Records of Decision for two Resource Management Plans, one for the Sonoran Desert National Monument and one for the remaining BLM lands within the Lower Sonoran Field Office, which includes most of the lands in the National Monument proposal. Click on the map below to enlarge it and see these areas.

In March of 2013, Congressman Raúl Grijalva introduced a package of bills that included the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act. Click on the map to enlarge it.

Gila Bend Map

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