A Resolution of the Board of Directors for Archaeology Southwest in opposition to any efforts to revoke or diminish Bears Ears National Monument.
Whereas, Presidential Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017, directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a review of all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made “without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders”; and
Whereas, the Secretary has been ordered, in section 2, to provide an interim report to the President, through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, summarizing the findings of the review described in the order, and in subsection d, with respect to Proclamation 9558 of December 28, 2016 (Establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument), within 45 days of the date of the order; and
Whereas, this order may be seen to advance an attack on our nation’s public lands and waters, assailing the fundamentally American concept of preserving culturally and naturally rich places for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans; and
Whereas, this order may be seen as an act of disrespect toward American Indian Tribes, to their history on this continent since time immemorial, to their sacred sites, and to their sovereignty, disparaging the idea that all Americans’ stories on the landscape, and especially those of America’s indigenous peoples, should be recognized, protected, and celebrated in our public lands; and
Whereas, this order challenges the Antiquities Act of 1906, its visionary legacy for preserving and protecting the lands and stories that make our country great, and the very concepts that that Act asserts—that there is broad public interest in the places and artifacts that tell our human story, that these deserve protection, and that, in addition to scientific value, there is value in interpreting these places and their meaning for humankind—and challenges this Act despite more than a century of bipartisan support; and
Whereas, it is our mission to explore and protect the archaeological sites and cultural landscapes of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and southwestern Colorado, with the financial and ideological support of members and donors across the United States; and
Whereas, since 2014, we have committed to describing and raising national and global public awareness of the diverse archaeological, historical, cultural, natural, and scientific objects that merit protection through designation as Bears Ears National Monument through Archaeology Southwest Magazine, Southwest Archaeology Today weekly e-news, monthly email newsletters, and social media; and
Whereas, we can state from our direct involvement that Bears Ears National Monument has been a community-driven initiative—significantly, including tribal communities—informed by intensive public discussion and robust stakeholder outreach; based on extensive professional assessment of well-documented facts about the cultural and natural resources under the monument’s protection; and grounded in the traditional knowledge of multiple American Indian tribes; and
Whereas, of more than 150 monuments protecting America’s heritage for future generations, no president has attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation, even when there had been some public disagreement over the designation, and no president has the legal authority to eliminate or alter a national monument;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors for Archaeology Southwest remains fully and actively committed to defending the Antiquities Act of 1906, Bears Ears National Monument, and our national monuments as originally designated, and continues to work with a coalition of sovereign tribal nations, stakeholders, and supporters who share our deep respect for the sacred American Indian sites and cultural landscapes in Western national monuments, in order to respect the lives of those who came before, their descendants, and ourselves as Americans.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior.
APPROVED by the Board of Directors May 24, 2017.