FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2022
Contact: Will Pregman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 702.752.0656
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Tribal Leaders, Avi Kwa Ame Supporters Speak at BLM Community Meeting on Monument Resolution
Laughlin, NV – This morning, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a public meeting to discuss public lands management with residents of southern Nevada, particularly about the proposal to designate the 450,000 acre territory of Avi Kwa Ame (a.k.a. Spirit Mountain) as a new national monument in southern Nevada.
Supporters of the monument effort, organized by member groups comprising the Honor Avi Kwa Ame coalition, filled the room and voiced their support for the proposal. Nearly 300 supporters and dozens of organizations were in attendance to demonstrate their commitment to seeing through this monument proposal.
Fort Mojave Indian Tribal Council Members Issued the Following Statements:
“Avi Kwa Ame is significantly an important part of our community as it is where our tribal creation story begins. Its protection is the equivalent to protecting the existence of the Mojave people and culture itself,” said Shan Lewis, Vice Chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and President, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona. “This fight for protection has been a priority of our people for generations. As leaders we carry the honor of fighting for the right to protect that which is most sacred to the Mojave people. To be able to offer protection under the status of a monument would not only protect this sacred area but share it with others in a respectable way. Our visit with Secretary Haaland was a historical event for the Mojave people. To elevate the status of our cause to create the Avi Kwe Ame National Monument with this important visit from the highest levels of the federal government was an honor. It is important to continue dialog after such an event until the goal of protection is met.”
“Avi Kwa Ame or Spirit Mountain is of utmost importance to our Community because it is a sacred place where we believe our God Matevilye, his younger brother Mastamho and the original people lived. The original people left images and stories through petroglyphs on the rocks at Avi Kwa Ame. Mastamho brought life to the world, as we know it now, by creating all living things: animals, birds, the river, vegetation, etc. Avi Kwa Ame has a physical and spiritual connection to our Community. Conceptually, Avi Kwa Ame is comparable to Christianity’s most sacred and holy places,” Colleen Garcia, Fort Mojave Tribal Councilwoman, said. “For me, personally, Avi Kwa Ame is where my origin began, my roots. I am a traditional Aha Macav (Mojave) elder whose ancestors were the original people who lived at Avi Kwa Ame in the beginning of life on earth. Avi Kwa Ame is the origin of my life yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am connected to Avi Kwa Ame physically and spiritually. I am hoping Secretary Haaland is able to support and convey our wishes for the protection of Avi Kwa Ame. Her support of proposed legislation and commitment of resources and funding is needed to protect Avi Kwa Ame from further damage and loss.”
The Honor Avi Kwa Ame coalition partners issued the following statements following the meeting:
“We are sincerely honored and thankful to Director Tracy Stone-Manning, Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, and the entire staff at the Bureau of Land Management who helped organize this public meeting today. As a diverse coalition of Nevadans in support of designating Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument, we were thrilled to demonstrate our commitment to this special, sacred land by being in attendance today. We hope that the Biden-Harris administration officials found the community’s testimony instructive for the process of finalizing plans for this designation.”
“During today’s meeting, theBureau heard from leaders from Tribal Nations, including the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, who illustrated the spiritual importance of Avi Kwa Ame to Yuman-speaking tribes throughout the region. In addition, small business owners, and members of the Laughlin, Searchlight, and Boulder City communities, conservationists, sportsmen, and outdoor enthusiasts, all spoke to the environmental, economic, and recreational benefits of expanding federal protection of this territory south of Las Vegas.”
“We are feeling encouraged, between Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, visiting the proposed monument in September, and today’s public listening session, that the Biden-Harris administration is getting closer to making a final decision on designating Avi Kwa Ame to be Nevada’s next national monument. This years-long effort is finally nearing fruition thanks to the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to protect areas of great importance, in furtherance of its efforts to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Our partners will continue to be a resource for the DOI, the BLM, and other relevant agencies in order to ensure we can get this over the finish line, with due credit and deference given to the Tribal Nations for whom this land is sacred.”
Individual Organizations with the coalition also issued the following statements:
Below is a statement from Jocelyn Torres, Senior Conservation Director for Conservation Lands Foundation, in response to the public hearing for the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument hosted by Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis in Laughlin, Nevada: “We thank Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis for taking the time to hear first-hand from Tribal leaders, local elected officials and advocates about the importance of preserving Avi Kwa Ame as a National Monument. Everyday I am inspired by the dedication and relentless efforts of so many in our Southern Nevada community to protect this magical landscape. I hope Stone-Manning and Daniel-Davis left inspired and recommend to President Biden that he designate Avi Kwa Ame a national monument before the end of this year.”
“We are thrilled to hear the overwhelming support at today’s public meeting for designating the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. It’s loud and clear Tribes, community members, local businesses, governments, recreationists, artists, and conservation groups want this sacred and unique desert ecosystem protected for generations to come. Now we’re calling on President Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act and act upon years of collaborative efforts to permanently protect this remarkable place,” said Nicole Layman, Deputy Vice President, Conservation Campaigns, The Wilderness Society
“Avi Kwa Ame is critical in its spiritual importance to the Indigenous peoples whose land we now occupy, as well as its environmental importance as a diverse desert plant and animal habitat,” said Annette Magnus, Executive Director of the Institute for a Progressive Nevada. “Southern Nevadans are privileged to have such a place right in their backyard. While much of the proposed land already enjoys some minimal levels of federal protection, designating this land as a national monument is key to bolster the protection of cultural artifacts and habitats for species like the desert bighorn sheep, or desert tortoise, who thrive and migrate through the area. This designation will also benefit the economies of small municipalities in Southern Nevada, through an uptick in interest spurring outdoor recreational tourism throughout the year. But it is not up to us – this monument and its proposed boundaries are something that tribes and their leadership have been organizing around for years. We encourage the BLM, Interior, President Biden, and Congress to do right by the Indigenous tribes in the region and honor their requested boundaries. We’ll continue to work with Tribal leadership, our coalition and stakeholders to see this designation through, and look forward to celebrating a brand new national monument in Nevada.”
“We were honored and thankful for the opportunity to share our support for designating this sacred land before federal representatives today,” said Taylor Patterson, Executive Director of Native Voters Alliance Nevada. “We have worked in partnership with tribal leaders and other stakeholders to bring this monument campaign to the forefront and ensure that the boundaries for this new monument they negotiated for years are respected in this process. Ten of the Yuman-speaking tribes who trace their creation story and ancestry to Avi Kwa Ame place a tremendous importance on preserving the history and natural beauty of this land. Enhanced federal protection for Avi Kwa Ame would devote additional federal resources to safeguarding cultural sites, maintaining plant and wildlife habitats and migration corridors, and balancing responsible outdoor recreation activities with land conservation. We thank Director Stone-Manning and Deputy Daniel-Davis for listening to our remarks in support today, as well as the remarks of Indigenous leaders from around Nevada. The federal government should honor its obligation to them by designating Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument, with their requested boundaries, to serve as an important step in the redress the legacy of colonial genocide, and future protection of this land for generations to come.”
Nevada Conservation League Avi Kwa Ame Campaign Manager Craig Bakerjian released the following statement:
“Today’s community meeting presented us with the meaningful opportunity to demonstrate to the Bureau of Land Management the important role the Avi Kwa Ame landscape plays in the protection of sacred sites, preservation of ecological resources, strengthening of our economy, and the resilience of our climate.
“Avi Kwa Ame is culturally relevant to 12 Native American tribes, and considered sacred to 10-Yuman speaking tribes, while also home to some of the most stunning, biologically diverse land that is a habitat to the endangered desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep, and some of the oldest, largest Joshua trees on the planet. By designating Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, we can protect our most ecologically important and culturally significant landscapes in a way that honors the visions of Indigenous communities for the stewardship of these resources.”
“We are deeply grateful to the Bureau of Land Management staff, Director Tracy Stone-Manning, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis for hosting and participating in today’s listening session in Laughlin, Nevada — one of the many communities whose economy stands to benefit from the establishment of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.”
“Today’s listening session, which followed Interior Secretary Haaland’s visit to Avi Kwa Ame in September, builds on the momentum from our coalition of tribal governments, elected officials, and local advocates who have been working to establish Nevada’s next national monument, and leaves us optimistic for the future. We hope today’s comments prove to be conducive to the designation efforts and we will continue to work with our federal leaders to advance the protection of Avi Kwa Ame.”
“Hunters, outdoor recreationists, conservationists, and Indigenous and local community leaders have been calling for additional protections for Avi Kwa Ame, which is considered sacred by many Tribes. Designating this land as a national monument will ensure that bighorn sheep, mule deer, and other wildlife species will be able to migrate freely in search of water, food and shelter,” said David Willms, senior director of Western wildlife and conservation at the National Wildlife Federation. “The protections will also safeguard Indigenous sites, ancient Joshua tree forests, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation that will benefit neighboring communities.”
“The Avi Kwa Ame area plays an important role in preventing Nevada’s desert big game habitat from fragmentation. A national monument designation will secure safe passage of bighorn sheep, mule deer, and other wildlife species. Additional protections will also guarantee that sporting organizations will have continued access to identify, build, and maintain water guzzlers for game animals which is critical for their survival,” said Russell Kuhlman, executive director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation. “Conserving and restoring wildlife habitat in Avi Kwa Ame will benefit Nevada’s wildlife and sporting heritage for generations to come.”
Statement from Alan O’Neill, retired superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area:
“My personal connection to protecting this area started two decades ago, when I worked at the National Park Service and helped designate the Spirit Mountain Traditional Cultural Property. We are grateful that the Interior Department heard firsthand from so many local leaders on why these public lands are so special and need protection. In addition to protecting the landscape, this monument would connect the Eastern Mojave Desert to the Colorado Plateau, providing space and elevation for this thriving ecosystem to adapt to the impacts from climate change.”
Statement from Neal Desai, senior program director at the National Parks Conservation Association:
“Protecting Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument will ensure the Joshua trees, bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and sacred lands are protected for future generations. Today’s public meeting gets us closer to fulfilling long-standing requests by tribes to establish this national monument. NPCA has worked for years alongside tribal and local communities to form consensus on this monument proposal and boundary and are thrilled to see the hard work by so many people recognized with today’s official Interior Department meeting.”
About Honor Avi Kwa Ame: A coalition of tribes, local Searchlight, Boulder City and Laughlin residents, the Nevada Legislature, conservation groups, recreation interests, and others are working 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.
For a full list of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument supporters, click here.
About Avi Kwa Ame (Pronunciation: Ah-VEE kwa-meh): Sacred to 12 tribes, the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is at the center of Yuman creation stories and spiritual ideology and deserves permanent protection. Located between the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Nevada/California border, Avi Kwa Ame, the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain, could be Nevada’s 4th national monument. Covering nealry 450,000 acres in southwestern Nevada, it is rich in both history and beauty. The proposed national monument includes petroglyphs; historic mining- and pioneer-era artifacts; rare and threatened wildlife such as the Mojave Desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep.