Latest Project Update
Read our statement on President Trump’s proclamation regarding Bears Ears National Monument here.
Read the president’s December 4, 2017 proclamation, which in effect rescinds Bears Ears National Monument, here.
Together with the Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest publishes a free report, Bears Ears Archaeological Experts Gathering: Assessing and Looking Ahead (opens as PDF).
Banner image by R. E. Burrillo
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The Bears Ears region is not only a singular natural landscape, but also a cultural one. Over millennia, people transformed the rugged lands to meet biological, social, and spiritual needs. Traces of their lives include ancient dart points, rock art, roads, and cliff dwellings, as well as myriad other places of great significance to contemporary Native American tribes and descendants of the region’s Euro-American settlers. In 2014, Archaeology Southwest devoted a special double issue of its Archaeology Southwest Magazine to Cedar Mesa and the Bears Ears region in order to raise awareness of the region’s spectacular archaeology.
Unfortunately, ongoing looting, grave robbing and vandalism in the Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears region have insulted Native American spirituality, marred the scientific record, and erased American history. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is investigating many looting and vandalism cases in the area. National monument designation brings greater, and critically needed, levels of protection to the area’s 100,000-some archaeological sites.
President Obama proclaimed the Bears Ears National Monument on December 28, 2016. The president’s authority to declare national monuments was set forth in the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was established in order to protect historic landmarks, archaeological sites, and other objects of historic or scientific interest on lands owned or controlled by the federal government. Almost every president since Theodore Roosevelt has used the act to accomplish conservation goals in the public interest.
William Doelle, president and CEO of Archaeology Southwest, shared the following statement on the monument’s declaration:
“We celebrate the president’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was established to protect places of national cultural significance. Bears Ears far exceeds that standard—the region’s well-preserved archaeological sites and cultural landscapes have limitless scientific value, of course, but they also tell essential stories about being human that are meaningful to all people.
“With this proclamation, President Obama profoundly conveys our shared respect for the lives of those who came before, their descendants, and ourselves as Americans.”
Read Bears Ears Archaeological Experts Gathering: Assessing and Looking Ahead (opens as a PDF), a free report by Archaeology Southwest and the Friends of Cedar Mesa.