FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2022
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Honor Avi Kwa Ame Coalition Partners Speak on Secretary Haaland Visit to Proposed Monument
NEVADA – Today, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, visited the proposed national monument site in southern Nevada known as Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh) to meet with Tribal leaders and members of the Honor Avi Kwa Ame coalition for a roundtable discussion. Coalition members asked Secretary Haaland to advise President Joe Biden and his Administration about the need to designate Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument, citing cultural, environmental, and economic benefits for doing so. Members of the coalition issued the following statements:
“Establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will honor tribes, preserve ecological resources, and strengthen our outdoor recreation economy while heeding Nevadans’ call for meaningful conservation and climate action,” said Nevada Conservation League Avi Kwa Ame Campaign Manager Craig Bakerjian. “The Secretary’s presence at the proposed monument site and walking alongside members of our coalition gives her the incredible experience to understand this locally-led conservation effort being backed by a diverse group of stakeholders,”
“We are left joyful and more determined than ever to protect Avi Kwa Ame following our roundtable discussion with Secretary Haaland this afternoon,” 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 of the Interior department’s attention. Today, it was an honor to speak with Secretary Haaland, this country’s first Indigenous cabinet secretary, on ways to strengthen the relationship between tribal nations and the U.S. federal government when it comes to managing and protecting our outdoors. 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 recognize the efforts by Congresswoman Dina Titus to introduce the monument designation in the House and advocate for protecting Avi Kwa Ame. We also thank Congresswoman Susie Lee for attending today’s roundtable and speaking with tribal leaders and the Secretary on the importance of designating the monument. Finally, we thank Secretary Haaland for making the trip to visit us today, and look forward to continuing to work with her Department, the Biden Administration, and Congress, to protect this sacred space.”
“We thank Secretary Haaland for her visit and interest to experience first-hand the important role the Avi Kwa Ame landscape has in protecting sites of sacred, cultural and historic significance; connecting together other protected landscapes; and preserving the backcountry character so many locals and visitors enjoy,” said Jocelyn Torres, Senior Conservation Director for Conservation Lands Foundation. “Avi Kwa Ame, the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain and the surrounding area, is the point of creation for ten Yuman-speaking tribes and sacred to the Chemehuevi Paiute and Hopi tribes. You can hear about the importance of Avi Kwa Ame from members of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe at AviKwaAme.com. The effort to designate Avi Kwa Ame a National Monument is supported by Tribes and Indigenous organizations, including the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, the Inter-Tribal Councils of Nevada and Arizona and Native Voters Alliance Nevada. It’s also supported by local and regional governments, including the three surrounding communities of Boulder City, Searchlight, and Laughlin, as well as many conservation and recreation groups in Nevada. We truly appreciate Secretary Haaland’s visit. We hope she leaves the landscape inspired and carries forward the message that Tribes and local communities share – Avi Kwa Ame is worthy and in need of permanent protection.”
“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, said Neal Desai, Senior Program Director at the National Parks Conservation Association, “Secretary Haaland’s visit 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 Secretarial visit.”
“It was an honor to help introduce Secretary Haaland to this spectacular landscape and we are grateful that she heard firsthand from leaders on why these public lands are so special,” said Alan O’Neill, advisor to the National Parks Conservation Association and 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. In addition to protecting the landscape, this 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.”
“Avi Kwa Ame is a landscape of breathtaking beauty, dotted by marvels of cultural and natural history. A land so critical in its spiritual importance to the Indigenous peoples whose land we now occupy, as well as to the diverse plant and animal life who call it home, is a vitally important space to protect,” 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. We are so grateful to Secretary Deb Haaland and the Interior Department for visiting Walking Box Ranch, and other highlights of the proposed monument site today. In her role as the first Indigenous woman to lead an executive department, it signifies a shift towards honoring tribal sovereignty over the land they occupy, and hope to see this cooperation built upon in years to come. We want to thank Congresswoman Dina Titus, for bringing this land designation to the forefront with legislation. We also thank Congresswoman Susie Lee for attending this important roundtable and lending her support to the effort. We encourage President Biden, the Interior, and Congress to work together to have this important land designated as Nevada’s newest national monument as soon as they can, in accordance with the President’s America the Beautiful initiative, as well as doing right by the tribes who organized for years to make this happen.”
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 more than 380,000 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.