Chaco Canyon in New Mexico contains relics of human history from 900 B.C., through habitation by the Puebloan people of Arizona and New Mexico, and finally, by the Navajo Tribe. In the late 1800’s, signs of extensive looting in Chaco Canyon and other historical sites raised concerns that the historical record of America’s human history could be permanently lost. The Antiquities Act passed in 1906 had two purposes: 1) to protect historic objects on all public lands—the first legislation to do so. The initial purpose of the law was to prevent the looting of archeological sites, Native American structures, and artifacts; and 2) to establish a way for U.S. Presidents to protect federal lands of great cultural, historic or scientific interest by creating a national monument.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (OPCNM) is located in the Sonoran Desert, in close proximity to the Mexican border. Although the OPCNM was designated as a national monument primarily to protect the only examples of organ pipe cactus found in the U.S., it also harbors a treasure trove of Native American artifacts, many not yet excavated. The Antiquities Act in the OPCNM prohibits injuring, destroying or removing historical artifacts of human history and the organ pipe cactus.
The Department of Homeland Security has waived the Antiquities Act to expedite the building of a border wall. What are the consequences of waiving this act for the as yet unearthed cultural artifacts buried near the proposed wall and the unique plants of the OPCNM? The Border Patrol may ignore with impunity the management plan created for the Monument. This means that the wall can be built with no concern for historic objects or organ pipe cactus in the vicinity of the construction—these relics and plants can literally be kicked aside to make room for the wall. Waiving the Antiquities Act means that we may permanently lose part of our historical record and a unique form of Arizona’s biodiversity. Click here for a list of all 48 federal laws waived for construction of a border wall.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members) and let them know that you oppose waiving The Antiquities Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.