When President Obama, using the time-honored Antiquities Act signed into law by Teddy Roosevelt, established three new national monuments on July 10 in Nevada, California and Texas, the protection of Native American art and artifacts was among his top priorities. Basin and Range National Monument in southeastern Nevada will protect petroglyph and prehistoric rock art dating back thousands of years. In the conservation community, not to mention the Native American community, this was an occasion to celebrate.The op-ed is definitely fueled by the most recent "we-will-screw-you-over" action by Congress, where they reached a hush-hush deal and attached a very disturbing amendment to last year's National Defense Authorization Act, where they hand over Oak Flat to Resolution Copper—a move approved by Arizona's U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain, as well as U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar.
House Republicans, however, were not celebrating. When a reporter asked for his views on the new monuments and pointed out the rich Native American history involved, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah replied, “Ah, bull crap. That’s not an antiquity.” Earlier that same day, a release from the Chairman stated, “There is nothing that [President] Obama did today that had anything to do with an antiquity.”
This was not an isolated incident. Representative Don Young, who chairs the Committee’s panel on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, lectured representatives of the Zuni Pueblo and Navajo Nation at a July 15 hearing about accepting whatever decision Congress made on a land dispute at Fort Wingate, New Mexico. “Either you take what we’re going to give you and be happy, or you’re going to lose it,” he told them. “You better be happy with what you’re going to get.”