WASHINGTON, D.C. – At last week’s Tribal Nations Summit, President Biden announced his intent to establish Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument by his authority under the Antiquities Act. Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), author of the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument Establishment Act of 2022, praised President Biden for his announcement.
The Mojave name for Spirit Mountain, Avi Kwa Ame is considered the sacred center of creation by 10 Yuman-speaking tribes as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute. In February, Congresswoman Titus introduced legislation to permanently protect these nearly 450,000 acres of biologically diverse and culturally significant lands within the Mojave Desert by designating it as a national monument.
“Avi Kwa Ame’s story is one of perseverance and passion,” said Rep. Titus. “I am pleased that President Biden has listened to Southern Nevada stakeholders, including indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and outdoor recreationalists to protect this sacred land. Preserving treasured spaces has always been important to me, and I am grateful for the many grassroots organizations and community leaders who have been instrumental over the years in safeguarding these sloping bajadas, scenic canyons, and ancient cultural sites for future generations to enjoy. Land conservation is a core value in Nevada.”
“The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe thanks Congresswoman Titus for her leadership and actions to establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument,” said Timothy Williams, Fort Mojave Indian Tribal Chairman. “Avi Kwa Ame is a unique cultural landscape that is the center of creation for Mojave people and we are grateful it will remain protected. Knowing our future generations will have the freedom to continue our cultural and religious practices as we have since time immemorial is both a model of inclusivity and a promise to honor the strength of Nevada’s diversity.”
“We invest in this land not only because it is the right thing to do for future generations, but it is truly the prudent financial move as well,” said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft who has introduced a resolution of support for the designation. “Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy supports 49,000 jobs and generates $3.9 billion for the state in annual economic activity.”
The monument features dramatic scenic peaks and canyons, sloping bajadas home to some of the oldest and largest Joshua trees in the world, bighorn migration routes, unique grasslands, and a rich history of petroglyphs and other ancient cultural sites sacred to ten Yuman-speaking tribes in the Mountain West.
Avi Kwa Ame’s designation as a national monument will also boost tourism in Southern Nevada. The state’s outdoor recreation economy lost around 14 million visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some tour companies relying on out-of-state visitors cut staff by up to 70 percent.
Tribal leaders and conservationists have been working for over 20 years to permanently protect Avi Kwa Ame and have coordinated with elected officials, government agencies, outdoor recreation businesses, and environmental organizations to establish the monument’s boundary lines.