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Avi Kwa Ame is a national treasure

The newly designated Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh) National Monument in Southern Nevada contains some of the most visually stunning, biologically diverse, and culturally significant lands in the entire Mojave Desert.

Stretching from the Newberry mountains in the east to the New York, South McCullough, Castle, and Piute mountains in the west, these lands feature dramatic peaks, scenic canyons, natural springs, sloping bajadas covered with ancient Joshua tree forests, unique grasslands, and a rich history of rock art and other cultural sites.

The entire area is considered sacred by ten Yuman speaking tribes as well as the Hopi and Southern Paiute. For the Yuman tribes, the area is tied to their creation, cosmology, and well-being. Spirit Mountain, called Avi Kwa Ame by the Mojave Tribe, is located on the eastern boundary of the Monument. It is designated a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its religious and cultural importance.

The designation of Avi Kwa Ame as a National Monument protects this sacred area from any future industrial development, preserving the world-class habitat and nationally recognized cultural resources found here.

A coalition of tribes, local Searchlight, Boulder City and Laughlin residents, the Nevada Legislature, conservation groups, recreation interests, and others worked to establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument to permanently protect these treasured lands. Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain and the surrounding landscape. The mountain, located on the eastern boundary of the proposed monument, and the surrounding landscape are sacred to twelve Native American tribes.

Read the Presidential Proclamation establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.

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Within the national monument

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Protect Avi Kwa Ame


Thank you, President Biden for designating the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Southern Nevada! 

Thank you for honoring the Avi Kwa Ame landscape with the protections that we in Nevada and across the country along with Tribal Nations, gateway communities and local organizations supported. 

This designation permanently protects a landscape that holds such important stories of our state’s history and rich habitat for so many species, including the mojave desert tortoise. This designation honors Tribal efforts to preserve land sacred to the Yuman-Speaking Tribes, including the Mojave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Halchidhoma, Cocopah, and Kumeyaay, as well as the Southern Paiute and the Hopi.

The new Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will conserve important cultural sites, protect wildlife habitat by creating a corridor of protections from the Mojave Preserve in California to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona, benefit our region’s economy, and secure the permanent protection of these lands for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of Nevadans and visitors alike. 

We are overjoyed to have Avi Kwa Ame National Monument become Nevada’s fourth national monument joining Tule Springs Fossil Beds, Basin and Range, and Gold Butte National Monuments. Thank you for honoring Avi Kwa Ame and ensuring the special connection to this place can be preserved for generations to come.

Why a national monument?

To protect significant ecological, cultural, and recreational resources

Joshua Tree ForestThe monument is a hotspot of botanical diversity, providing habitat for a cacophony of plant and animal diversity, including many species found nowhere else on Earth. The Joshua tree forests within the monument are among the most significant ones on the planet. The monument includes the eastern edge of the world’s largest Joshua tree forest, which is home to some of the oldest and largest Joshua trees in existence. The oldest of these ancient wonders have survived for over 900 years.

The area also contains critical habitat for the desert tortoise and contains the largest area of high-quality tortoise habitat in the State of Nevada. It may also possess the highest desert tortoise population densities in the state.

The monument is an important migratory corridor for desert bighorn sheep, and a herd of desert bighorn lives on the steep, rocky slopes of the Castle Mountains and the New York Mountains. They and other wildlife traverse the area between the Piute Mountains and the New York Mountains and east to the Newberry and Eldorado Mountains.

The area has been designated as an Important Birding Area for its unique and diverse assemblage of birds that includes gilded flickers, Harris’ hawks, and curved-billed thrashers. The area contains one of the highest known densities of golden eagles in Nevada. In addition, nearly two dozen species of raptors reside in the monument including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and western screech owls. The landscape is also important for migratory birds due to its proximity to foraging habitat, nesting habitat, and to the Colorado River, which is one of the most significant features in the Pacific Flyway.

The monument includes numerous other biological treasures including the elusive Gila monster, which spends a significant portion of its life underground. Upland areas contain a unique arid grassland community that includes 28 species of native grasses, about half of which are rare.

The Monument would create an essential corridor that connects the Mojave National Preserve, Castle Mountains National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Dead Mountain Wilderness Area in California with Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and the Colorado Plateau. This will serve as a contiguous block of habitat of sufficient quality and quantity to promote the survival, growth, reproduction, and maintenance of viable populations of Mojave Desert flora and fauna.

Hiko Sprtings PetroglyphsAs important as this area is ecologically, it is equally significant as a cultural landscape. The entire area within the monument is within the viewshed of Spirit Mountain and considered sacred by the Yuman speaking tribes which include the Mohave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, and Kumeyaay.

The area is tied to their creation, cosmology, and well-being. Spirit Mountain, called Avi Kwa Ame by the Mojave Tribe, is located on the eastern boundary of the monument, is also a sacred site to the Hopi and Southern Paiute.

Spirit Mountain was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property in 1999 in recognition of its religious and cultural importance. The designation is rooted in the Yuman community’s history and is important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community.

Spirit Mountain is the center of the Yuman tribes’ creation and figures predominantly within their spiritual ideology. The Yuman Tribes believe the mountain is the spiritual birthplace of the tribes, the place where ancient ancestors emerged into this world.

According to the Mojave Tribe, which serves as caretaker of the mountain and surrounding landscapes on behalf of the other Yuman tribes, the area within the proposed monument is physically and spiritually connected to the viewshed and landscapes that surround Avi Kwa Ame. They believe this connection is through the mountain peaks and ranges surrounding Avi Kwa Ame. The network of trails and cultural sites and the corresponding creation stories links their tribe and religious traditions to this important landscape.

Another area of religious and cultural importance to the Mojave and Chemehuevi Tribes is the Dead Mountains in the southern portion of the monument. The Dead Mountains contain areas of both sacred and ritual importance that are associated with traditional cosmogony, delineate religious events, embody religious figures, and define burial places.

No formal cultural resources surveys have been conducted for the entire Monument lands, but important cultural resources are known to exist, including prehistoric lithic scatters, rock shelters, petroglyphs, and quarry sites. Archeological evidence suggests that humans have used the area for thousands of years.

The area has an important more recent history as well. The Rock Springs Land and Cattle Company began grazing in the Paiute Valley in the early 1900s, using the Walking Box Ranch as a base of operations. After changing hands several times, the Bureau of Land Management acquired the ranch in 2004. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the southern part of the Monument is a section of the historic Mojave Trail, which was originally used by Mojave and other Native Americans to transport goods from the southwest to trade with the Chumash and other coastal tribes. The trail was later modified into the Mojave Road, also known as the Government Road, which serves both civilian and military travelers, mail carriers, and supply wagons between Arizona Territory and California.

The designation of the area as a National Monument will preserve the access and connection all of these communities have had for generations and protect the quality of life local residents enjoy today.

The monument protects a wide variety of recreational experiences and opportunities for the public to explore and enjoy, including hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, scenic driving, hunting, horseback riding, as well as opportunities for solitude, dark night skies, and personal discovery.


The remote nature of the area protects the ability to enjoy the increasingly rare natural quiet and dark night sky and solitude. The star-filled nights and natural quiet of the monument lands transport visitors to an earlier eon. Against an absolutely black night sky, our galaxy and others more distant leap into view.

The monument inspires awe and wonder, providing outstanding opportunities for sightseeing, nature photography, night sky viewing, and painting. In traveling through the area, one is struck by the lush desert vegetation and rich biodiversity and the unbroken nature of the natural landscapes.

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