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Today, a bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers led by Representative Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act. Archaeology Southwest has long been a proponent of the boundary expansion. President and CEO Bill Doelle made the following statement: “The proposed legislation is a fitting act of respect for the nation’s first archaeological preserve, which was established at Casa Grande in 1892. It’s also an appropriate bipartisan congressional action on a matter that has strong tribal and local community support.”more updates
Once again legislation was introduced in the 114th Congress by Representative Ann Kirkpatrick to expand Casa Grande National Monument. The legislation has bipartisan support, with three additional co-sponsors: Representatives Paul Gosar (R), Raúl Grijalva (D), and Ruben Gallego (D). The bill has been referred to the subcommittee on Federal Lands within the House Natural Resources Committee (download a PDF of H.R. 1077 here).
Archaeology Southwest’s Field Representative, Andy Laurenzi, comments, “What is now becoming increasingly apparent is that these bill introductions are well intended, but likely to remain in suspended animation in the current Congress. For the past two sessions of Congress, despite bipartisan support, the bill has failed to receive a hearing in subcommittee.”
Arizona Republic editorial (1/22/14) urges movement on boundary expansion bills for Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Saguaro National Park: If Arizona was ugly, would preservation move any faster?
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge, Arizona, is among the state’s best-known cultural landmarks because of its striking “Great House,” one of the largest known ancient structures in the United States. Established as the first archaeological reserve by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, Casa Grande Ruins is not only the largest protected Hohokam site, but also the sole National Park unit that preserves and interprets Hohokam culture. The area enclosed within the park’s current boundary also preserves some of the once-extensive village associated with the impressive adobe structure.
Andy Laurenzi, Archaeology Southwest’s Field Representative (now retired), worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, City of Coolidge, Town of Florence, Friends of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Pinal County Historical Society, and others in support of a National Park Service (NPS) proposal to expand the boundaries of this unique monument.
In keeping with its mission to preserve, interpret, and educate the public about Casa Grande Ruins, the NPS proposes to bring more of the original village and part of the Casa Grande Canal within its boundaries—and thus within NPS’s ability to protect those resources.
The pace of development in metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson has expanded our understanding of the Hohokam through mitigation archaeology, but ancient sites and landscapes are ultimately being obliterated. Despite the current economic crisis and water issues, population in the Phoenix area is projected to double, so much of what remains will be lost. Although communities preserve portions of some Hohokam sites as archaeological parks, these represent a mere fragment of the region’s prehistoric cultural landscape. Some of the best-preserved Hohokam landscapes are on tribal lands, but broader public access is constrained.
Expansion of the monument is, therefore, a singular opportunity to preserve a significant portion of this cultural landscape for future public understanding of our shared past. It will provide a window on the Hohokam world for future generations.
Expansion of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument requires an Act of Congress. Previous bills did not receive approval by the House of Representatives, one introduced by Rep. Rick Renzi in 2005 and a second introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in 2010. In June 2010, Archaeology Southwest President William H. Doelle testified in Washington D.C. in support of the 2010 bill.
In June 2013, Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Paul Gosar, Raúl Grijalva, and Ed Pastor introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2497) to expand the boundaries of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. On Thursday, September 5, 2013, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D) and Penny Pew, District Director for Rep. Paul Gosar (R), discussed the legislation at an open house at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Attendees included several Pinal County supervisors, Coolidge mayor Tom Shope, O’odham elder Barnaby Lewis (Gila River Indian Community Tribal Historic Preservation Office), and local and tribal community members. Archaeology Southwest President and CEO Bill Doelle provided an overview of the area’s rich archaeological resources, highlighting those places that boundary expansion would protect.
If you are interested in helping to promote these preservation efforts, please contact Andy Laurenzi at Archaeology Southwest, (520) 882-6946, or by email.
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