(June 4, 2017)—This Thursday, June 8, is an important day. It marks 111 years since President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law.
We at Archaeology Southwest cannot overstate this law’s significance. Through this act, America has protected its singular landscapes and people’s stories therein. Increasingly, the Antiquities Act is ensuring that our public lands convey the histories of a greater diversity of peoples, especially indigenous peoples.
Writing about the Antiquities Act in Archaeology Southwest Magazine in 2012 (opens as a PDF) our President and CEO Bill Doelle said:
“This law has played a fundamental role in the preservation of archaeological resources because it contains the following fifty words: ‘The President of the United States is authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments…’
“The ongoing preservation legacy of the Antiquities Act of 1906 is remarkable in its magnitude.”
Followers of Archaeology Southwest know well that the Antiquities Act and some of the newer national monuments it has made possible are under attack. Many of you have joined us in speaking plainly and passionately on behalf of Bears Ears National Monument—and we can’t thank you enough.
Now, this week, in honor of the Antiquities Act’s 111th anniversary, we ask you to join us again to send a robust, unyielding message about the significance of the act and the public lands it has protected. Those lands hold Americans’ stories—triumphant and tragic, just and joyful, heroic and prosaic—and Americans’ memories.
The national monuments under review by Interior Secretary Zinke are federal lands that are part of the National Conservation Lands. Archaeology Southwest is part of the Friends Grassroots Network of community organizations that advocate for and help steward those lands. Together with our partners in the Friends Grassroots Network, we are sending the administration a clear message: Not one monument; not one inch.
The Friends Grassroots Network was thrilled to see that supporters from around the nation submitted over 685,000 comments in defense of Bears Ears National Monument before the May 26 deadline. To continue this momentum, we are all working to reach 1 million comments in defense of all of the monuments under attack by June 8, the 111th anniversary of the Antiquities Act. You can help us reach that goal.
Here’s what you might do:
Submit comments through monumentsforall.org or regulations.gov. We STRONGLY recommend using monumentsforall.org because these partners are archiving and tabulating responses before properly submitting them to regulations.gov.
Send a letter to the editor of your local paper regarding the Antiquities Act and your regional monuments or those you have visited.
Encourage your followers on social media to help us achieve 1 MILLION comments in honor of the anniversary of the Antiquities Act on June 8.
Here’s what you might say:
This is sample text to get you thinking about how to write comments or letters about the monuments nearest you or that you value most through personal experiences. Speak your truth. Be personal.
Dear Secretary Zinke,
Our national monuments and public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. I am extremely disappointed that President Trump has signed an executive order that attempts to undermine our national monuments. Attempts to rollback protections for national monuments would be both illegal and terribly misguided and I strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments.
[LOCAL MONUMENTS] in my home state of [STATE] are truly some of the treasures of our state. [MONUMENT #1] protects [insert values identified in proclamation, i.e. desert canyons, imperiled species like… recreation uses, etc.]. [MONUMENT #2]… Not only are these/this monument(s) incredibly worthy of protection, they bring enormous benefits to our state by providing opportunities for recreation and driving the outdoor recreation economy.
Additionally, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which is first on the list for this “review”, is a textbook example of the priceless historic, cultural and natural wonders that are protected as National Monuments. Protecting 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites the monument honors the voices of five tribes who joined together to seek protection of their shared ancestral lands and traditions, Bears Ears National Monument should remain protected permanently.
Additionally, an attempt to attack one monument by rolling back protections would be an attack on them all. Sending a signal that protections for our shared history, culture, and natural treasures are not permanent would set a terrible precedent. This would discourage business investment and community growth around all national monuments while also sending the signal that our history and natural wonders are negotiable. National monuments have already been shown to be tremendous drivers of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and businesses in gateway communities rely on the permanency of these protections when making decisions about investing in these communities. Whether at [LOCAL MONUMENT] in [STATE] or other monuments across the country, our national monuments should remain protected for future generations to enjoy – they are a gift that belongs to all Americans.
I am firmly opposed to any effort to revoke or diminish protections for National Monuments and I urge you to support our public lands and waters and recommend that our current national monuments remain protected.
In Archaeology Southwest’s home state of Arizona, four monuments are at risk:
On behalf of Archaeology Southwest and the Friends Grassroots Network, I thank you for standing with us. An attack on one national monument is an attack on all. Here’s to the 222nd anniversary of the Antiquities Act…
In 2001, we published an issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine on then-newly-declared national monuments of the U.S. Southwest, many of which are included in the current review. Here are profiles, a map, and discussions of the importance of these monuments from that edition (open as PDFs). Starred monuments are under review.
Agua Fria (AZ) (PDF)
*Ironwood Forest (AZ) (PDF)
*Vermilion Cliffs (AZ) (PDF)
Map of the Monuments (PDF)