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Indigenous advocates seek protections for Avi Kwa Ame following Bears Ears

An aerial photograph of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada.
An aerial photograph of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada.

News Brief

On Friday, President Biden signed proclamations to formally restore the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Now, Indigenous advocates in the Southwest are urging the administration to protect a sacred site in Nevada.

Taylor Patterson is the executive director of Native Voters Alliance Nevada and a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. She said it’s been encouraging to see an Indigenous-led effort be successful.

"And I think it's created this appetite for, 'Hey, let's actually pay attention to what our tribal people are saying, and where do they see significance?'"

One place Patterson said she hopes will get more attention—Avi Kwa Ame, or Spirit Mountain, in southernmost Nevada. It's tied to at least a dozen tribes, and considered sacred to ten Yuman speaking tribes (the Mohave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa. Pai Pai, and Kumeyaay) as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute.

A coalition that includes the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe are calling on the Biden administration to designate a 380,000-acre Ave Kwa Ame National Monument.

"Avi Kwa Ame, our place of creation, is continually threatened, and we remain steadfast in protecting our sacred land," Fort Mojave Chairman Timothy William said in a press release. "Fort Mojave looks forward to a day like today when we can come together and proclaim the Ave Kwa Ame National Monument."

The coalition says the designation would protect the area from threats such as sprawl from Las Vegas and wind and solar energy projects.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.

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