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Public Statements

Grijalva Cites Impacts on Tribes in Opposing Gosar Bill to Outlaw Presidential Declarations of New National Monuments in Arizona

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today expressed serious concerns about Rep. Paul Gosar's newly introduced Arizona Land Sovereignty Act (H.R. 1495), which would prohibit presidents from designating any new national monuments in Arizona. Presidents have had the authority to designate new national monuments to protect sensitive cultural or environmental resources since the non-controversial passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906.

Gosar's bill is especially misplaced in Arizona, Grijalva said, because 16 of the state's 18 current national monuments were presidentially designated, including several of the nation's most visited. Organ Pipe, Montezuma Castle and Canyon de Chelly -- each created by presidential order -- are among the 20 most visited national monuments in the country. All but three of the state's monuments were created to protect Native American rock art, artifacts, ruins, quarries, habitations or other cultural resources.

"There's a point at which we have to wonder whose interest is being served here," Grijalva said. "With all due respect to my colleague Rep. Gosar, this bill smacks of special interests and trying to score cheap political points. The Antiquities Act has done more than any other law to preserve thousands of years of Native American heritage. Suddenly we're supposed to believe it's a federal emergency worthy of Congressional meddling."

Gosar's bill, among others, will be discussed at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations on Thursday.

Arizona's national monuments include:

- Sonoran Desert National Monument (created by President Bill Clinton)

- Ironwood Forest National Monument (created by President Bill Clinton)

- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (created by President Woodrow Wilson)

- Tonto National Monument (created by President Theodore Roosevelt)

- Agua Fria National Monument (created by President Bill Clinton)

- Montezuma Castle National Monument (created by President Theodore Roosevelt)

- Tuzigoot National Monument (created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

- Walnut Canyon National Monument (created by President Woodrow Wilson)

- Sunset Crater National Monument (created by President Herbert Hoover)

- Wupatki National Monument (created by president Calvin Coolidge)

- Canyon de Chelly National Monument (created by President Herbert Hoover)

- Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (created by President Bill Clinton)

- Navajo National Monument (created by President William Howard Taft)

- Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (created by President Bill Clinton)

- Pipe Spring National Monument (created by President Warren Harding)

- Organ Pipe National Monument (created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

- Hohokam Pima National Monument (created by Congress in 1972)

- Chiricahua National Monument (created by Congress in 1924)

Of those, only Chiricahua, Sunset Crater and Vermilion Cliffs were not designated at least in part to preserve Native American historical and cultural treasures. Future potential designations in Arizona would likely serve the same function, Grijalva said.

"I just don't see what real problem this bill is trying to solve, and I don't think I'm alone," Grijalva said. "Our national and cultural heritage truly is supposed to be beyond politics. This has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans -- it's about preserving a successful, hundred-year-plus-old system of protecting our most important ecological and historic sites for the future. If that's upsetting to Rep. Gosar, this is not the way to go about addressing it."


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