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Biden designates sacred tribal lands as national monuments

Spirit Mountain in Nevada will be among the areas included for federal protection after President Biden proclaims the area a national monument.
Spirit Mountain in Nevada.
Posted at 7:48 AM, Mar 21, 2023

President Joe Biden will proclaim new federal monuments in two states, giving the land protection against commercial development. 

The largest of the areas will be the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada. Local tribes have pushed for federal protection of the 380,000-acre site for years. 

Advocates said developers have attempted to install a 30,000-acre wind farm on the site. 

The White House said proclaiming Avi Kwa Ame as a federal monument “will honor Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples while conserving our public lands and growing America’s outdoor recreation economy.”

“The Avi Kwa Ame National Monument protects and preserves the rich ecological, historic, cultural, and scenic values of this unique desert landscape. The monument designation protects sacred space for spiritual uses, including Spirit Mountain, which is central to the creation story of many Tribal Nations, while ensuring continued access to hunting, camping, hiking, OHV use, photography, and other recreational activities,” the White House added. 

The Colorado River in the upper River Basin is pictured.

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In November 2022, President Biden delivered remarks at the Tribal Nations Summit vowing to protect the region, which includes Spirit Mountain. 

The president’s proclamation will also establish the Castner Range National Monument in El Paso, Texas. It served as a training and testing site for the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. 

It was remediated after the Army closed the site in 1966 to be safe for public use. 

The White House said the land previously belonged to the Apache and Pueblo peoples and the Comanche Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma. 

“This action will protect the cultural, scientific and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honor our veterans, servicemembers, and Tribal Nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on our public lands,” the White House said.