Southwestern Archaeology in the News – A Service of Archaeology Southwest

Southwest Archaeology Today: Southwestern Archaeology in the news - a service of Archaeology Southwest
Dear Friends,I was pleased to see a major new initiative by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation called the Monuments Project. Mellon has allocated $250 million over the next five years to this effort.From what I gather, the focus is likely to favor urban settings. According to the New York Times article I read, the project “defines ‘monument’ broadly to include not just memorials, statues and markers but also ‘storytelling spaces,’ as the foundation puts it, like museums and art installations.”In the public lands of the nation, especially in the West, broad coalitions of Indigenous people and supportive nonprofits make the case that cultural landscapes, with deep histories embedded on and within them, are very important monuments. Sometimes they are labeled national monuments or national parks.Such landscapes may not be exactly what urban dwellers think of as “monuments,” but they most certainly reflect this statement by Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander in the article: “The beauty of the deep study of history is when you realize there’s not just one story, and there’s not just two stories. You realize the power of this country is our multiplicity.”As a subscriber to this newsletter, you know well that threatened places—such as the Greater Chaco Landscape—have invaluable stories to tell. I hope Mellon’s Monuments Project will focus on these places, too. The healing that this nation needs will not be easy to accomplish, but Mellon’s commitment to social justice and its allocation of its largest-ever funding level for the Monuments Project is cause for optimism.My best wishes for the week ahead,Bill Doelle
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Identifying Sites and Resources in Greater Chaco
Tribal governments are working with archaeologists to identify thousands of culturally-sensitive sites and resources in the Greater Chaco region, in hopes of preventing oil and gas development in the area from encroaching further onto the sacred landscape. The studies are part of a multi-pronged strategy to protect the area amid increased oil and gas leasing on federal lands in New Mexico. – NM Political ReportInterior Secretary Refuses to Delay Greater Chaco Planning Process
Opponents say the conditions with the COVID-19 pandemic that led Bernhardt to extending the comment period once before have not changed and that the plan should be placed on hold until there can be in-person meetings once again. But during his visit to Farmington on Oct. 5, Bernhardt said the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will go forward with the Farmington Field Office Mancos-Gallup Resource Management Plan Amendment. Bernhardt said the resource management plan amendment has been in the works since 2014. “We need to move forward and get this plan done,” he said. – Farmington Daily TimesContinuing Coverage: Judge Rules Pendley’s Official Actions Must Be Set Aside
A federal court ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had an invalid director for more than a year has cast doubt over several of the agency’s efforts to drive oil and gas development on federal lands. William Perry Pendley, the BLM’s deputy director for programs and policy, served unlawfully as the agency’s director for more than 400 days because he was not confirmed by the Senate as required by law, according to the ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana. Morris said “any ‘function or duty’ of the BLM Director that has been performed by Pendley would have no force and effect and must be set aside.” – Indiana Environmental ReporterAaron Weiss, deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities, said not only did Pendley’s tenure exceed the statutory limit, but he named himself to the interim job, which also wasn’t legal. “The judge spent a lot of time in his ruling going over just how absurd the series of succession orders were: signed by [Interior] Secretary [David] Bernhardt and signed by William Perry Pendley himself, in his acting capacity, making that acting capacity permanent,” Weiss said. – Utah Public Radio (NPR)Commentary: Coalition Calls on Bernhardt to Retract Pendley’s Management Plans, Regulations
The National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society, and 58 other conservation organizations have called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to retract all management plans, decisions, rulemakings, and regulations that were influenced by William Perry Pendley, after a judge ruled Pendley served unlawfully for 14 months as the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In a letter, a coalition of organizations said Pendley had been involved in numerous resource management plans across the West, environmental studies in the Arctic, regulations for oil and gas leasing, rulemaking for timber and recreation, and hundreds of personnel decisions. – National Audubon Society

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