The Antiquities Act of 1906 (part 1): Why and What?

A friend recently posted a video of Glenn Beck reacting to Patagonia’s campaign against President Trump’s reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The purpose of this series of blog posts is not to argue with Mr. Beck and his followers. Merely, I wish to present a few historical and contextual facts that Mr. Beck left out of his tirade. It would behoove all of us to do a bit more research before giving credence to his words; he is, after all, merely a member of the media, paid for his ability to create shock and outrage among conservatives. From what I can tell, he does this job very well. However, he leaves out information that does not support his arguments. I have to break up my thoughts into multiple blog posts, simply to help me keep my thoughts straight and simple(r).

Native American cultures have lost a lot. And because history textbooks were generally written by the “winners” of wars, campaigns, events, etc., some facts are actually not represented and have been lost to time. It is these facts and perspectives that will give us a more complete view of history. It is this ignored or lost information we must seek. Often times, the truth is somewhere between the two perspectives.

Please feel free to explore the links I have provided and please read the full texts of these historic documents.

What is a National Monument?

According to the Antiquities Act, “…historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

However, what this DOESN’T acknowledge is the tie Native American tribes have to the land itself. Far more than the “European” or “Near Eastern” cultures that arrived here within the last 300 years, at least from my perspective. “Objects to be protected” is misleading verbiage to me as the land itself is often the object which cultures want preserved.

But… Why?

Of note is the first part of the Antiquities Act (conveniently not mentioned in Mr. Beck’s video), which states, “…any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.”

From my reading, this actual first clause of the act really hits on why the act was proposed and eventually passed. I say ‘eventually’ because the origins of the Antiquities Act (as a piece of legislation) started almost 25 years earlier – well before Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House.

A combination of archeologists, scientists and concerned citizens, interested in studying and preserving historic sites and artifacts abroad started to turn to reports of pueblos and diminishing settlements and cultures in what would become the southwestern United States, specifically the states of Arizona and New Mexico. In 1882, Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, along with (what is now known as) the New England Historic Genealogical Society, presented to the U.S. Senate a document outlining why the nation should preserve and study sites and artifacts associated with Native Americans:

“…that these remaining are the remnants of very ancient races in North America whose origin and history lie yet unknown in their decayed and decaying antiquities; that many of their towns have been abandoned by the decay and extinction of their inhabitants; that many of their relics have already perished and so made the study of American ethnology vastly more difficult; that the question of the origin of those Pueblos and the age of their decayed cities, and the use of some of their buildings, now magnificent ruins, constitute one of the leading and most interesting problems of the antiquary and historian of the present age; that relic-hunters have carried away, and scattered wide through America and Europe the remains of these extinct towns, thus making their historic study still more difficult, and, in some particulars, nearly impossible; that these extinct towns, the only monuments or interpreters of these mysterious races, are now daily plundered and destroyed in a most vandal way…” (For the full text of this document visit the the NPS history of the Antiquities Act or, better yet, go through the archives of the New England History Genealogical Society.)

So where do we draw the line? The history of the United States, as it applies to events and actions upon this continent, is inextricably linked to the decimation of cultures other than those of European descent. I am not placing blame on past U.S. citizens, merely just pointing out that we, as a nation, have contributed to destroying the history of our continent often before we had a chance to learn from said history.

And who was it who said, “Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it,”? (Actually, I believe that quote comes in many forms from many sources. )

Mr. Beck may not like how many acres have been set aside, but the legislation predates Roosevelt by several presidents. Congress just simply didn’t pass the legislation until more pots were hunted and structures were destroyed.

For further research, I recommend the following sites and organizations. From my reading, the National Park Service is actually the newest of these groups, and the collective histories of these groups are somewhat intertwined. Also do some reading on the explorations and studies of John Wesley Powell, Adolph Bandelier, and Lewis Henry Morgan, among many, many others.

  1. National Park Service Archeological Program: The Antiquities Act  https://www.nps.gov/history/archeology/pubs/lee/index.htm
  2. The New England Historic Genealogical Society  https://www.americanancestors.org/index.aspx
  3. The Archeological Institute of America https://www.archaeological.org/
  4. The American Anthropological Association http://www.americananthro.org/

 

Up Next: The First National Monument and The Great Multi-Use Debate

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Mansplaining or Dental Work. Which is worse?

Ok, so I’m going to disappoint you because I really can’t tell you which of these horrid phenomena is worse.

Let me say up front that I generally try to work hard and pay my bills. I have some rather expensive dental work I keep putting off simply because I can’t afford it. I’m still paying off my dental work from November of 2015. I inherited my mother’s teeth and jaws. And they have really bad problems – and stiffness now. It’s odd. The joint pain is more like stiffness some days. Can you get arthritis in your jaws? Does it result from TMJ? (I have had osteoarthritis in both knees and both ankles since I was very young.)

Anyway, I am trying to find a way to consolidate my debt and move forward so I can (yippee!) get more dental work done.

Yesterday, I had to listen to a banker lecture me on how he was ‘on my side’. And he didn’t like my ideas. So I walked out of the bank I’ve used for more than 12 years with no satisfactory answers or timeframes.

Did he want my business? I’m rather doubtful. And I’m not sure I want to listen to the patronizing mansplaining any more.

The real kicker is my current credit score is 736. Which is, as I understand it, pretty decent.

I guess I’ll deal with the pain for a little while longer.

What’s Blooming This Weekend?

So here’s my species list for this past weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Loco Weed
  • Golden Banner
  • Beardless Sidebells Penstemon
  • Clustered Penatemon
  • Marsh Marigold
  • (Narrowleaf) Red Paintbrush
  • Yellow Paintbrush
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Serviceberry
  • Wax Current (already setting fruit)
  • Blanketflower
  • Sulfurflower
  • Blue Iris
  • Shrubby Cinquefoil
  • Beauty Cinquefoil
  • American Bistort
  • Chickweed
  • Yellow Sweetclover
  • Wallflower
  • Calypso Orchid
  • Bedstraw
  • Strawberry
  • Short Style Onion
  • Shooting Star
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Yellow Stonecrop
  • Bladderpod or Draba
  • Sheepsorrel
  • Richardson Geranium
  • Pink Geranium
  • Primrose
  • Parry’s Harrbell
  • Leafy Cinquefoil
  • Heartleaf Arnica
  • Raspberry
  • Chokecherry
  • Yarrow
  • Pearly Everlasting
  • Alpine Forget-me-not
  • Alpine Avens
  • Alpine Primrose
  • Alpine Phlox
  • Lanceleaf Chiming Bells
  • Moss Campion
  • Dwarf Clover
  • Fendler Meadowrue (male plant recorded)

There are a few others. I am confident I am forgetting a few.

Next week we should see the Alpine Sunflowers (Old Man of the Mountain) start to bloom. I saw lots of buds today!

A Wildflower Nerd’s Dream

Penstemon

Ok, so here is a dream project…. Republishing the taxonomic key to the flora of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Yes, I know how nerdy that sounds.

Don’t be a hater.

The late Betty Willard has become a hero to me. She knew, I mean she was an expert on, the flora of Rocky’s mountains and valleys. Her book, written with Linda and Richard Beidleman and published in 2000 (now out of print) by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association is, itself, an updated version of a much older taxonomic key, this time with several hundred photos and line drawings.

___________

Many of us know a birder…. That dedicated seeker with binoculars that travels hundreds of miles just to add another species to their life list. (Admittedly, I know several.) I will never admit to that level of craziness, but I certainly have a life list of North American wildflowers. 

And helping me build that list is Betty Willard. I wish I could have known her and picked her brain while on a few hikes. Even today, after all these years, I found a couple of plants that were difficult to ID, even using her key. Perhaps they aren’t native. At least one is a lily of some sort, I am pretty sure, and she includes dandelions in her key, which are not native, so I am curious about what I found.

What really makes me curious is the fact that I think I know the lily… from other parks, maybe, or similar species… but why would it not be included here? The closest species I could find in her key is one that apparently likes shade. My plant was smack in full sun in the middle of Moraine Park. It was hidden in the grass, so perhaps it had a bit of shade. But not really. Generally a fairly hot meadow, except early in the spring right after mud season (or during mud season) – which is what we are nearly ending right now. 

I know it sounds totally nerdy, but to find something that Betty Willard might not have included makes my flower-loving heart skip a beat. A few years ago, a fellow interpretive ranger at Rocky Mountain told me that she considered Willard’s work the best for the park in our field. 

Pun intended, sort if.

So it has become a bucket list item for me, ever since I was told that republishing Willard’s work was cost-prohibitive for the folks who proposed it during the park’s centennial in 2015.

I have, perhaps, 200 species photographed in the park. And the ecological and ethnobotanical ramifications of said species. But in this age of low attention spans, the “I want it now!!!” mentality, and “Why does that matter?” attitude, I can see how the project can easily be cost-prohibitive. 

And it breaks my heart, for the following reasons:

  1. Fewer people are getting to know these majestic mountains as I (and the Betty Willards of the world) know them,
  2. Fewer people are connecting to their parks as I have,
  3. And science – and attention to detail – are going by the proverbial wayside. 

So it will still be on my bucket list, to expose this amazing land to future generations through the plants that produce the very oxygen, water and soil we rely upon. And publish a taxonomic key while I am at it.

Screw the smart phones. Let’s go find a Pedicularis.

This is one happy nerd on a mission. 

A Little HR Haiku

Long, long day at work

Data, numbers, HR help!

Brain exploding now

We need your timesheet

Your personnel file is wrong

Do what I tell you

Timesheets equal paychecks

Missing timesheets do not pay

Please just turn it in

Deadlines are your friends

Do not kill the messenger

The rules predate me

Ah…, the life of an HR data analyst. I know so much more about so many people than I want to know. 

Ever want to write haiku about your job? A friend and I did this while supposedly eating lunch today (read:turning away from our databases to answer another phone call).

A Little Meditation

IMG_2433

Just a bit of handspun yarn. Nothing much to see here. I did some spinning this weekend. Two-ply, 100% wool, hand-dyed by a friend of mine.

I am lucky enough to have a friend who will lend me her wheel for several months. She is packing and moving an apartment in the meantime. It’s a win-win situation.

And I get to say I did some spinning yesterday.

No, I didn’t go to the gym. My spinning uses different muscles. 😉 And it requires a lot more patience – a challenge for me this weekend!

Here’s another bit that I finished:

IMG_20170610_161645_319

You know, it’s so satisfying to see a project coming along. As my bobbin fills up, I can breath a little easier and I get into the rhythm. It can be very meditative. The movement of wheel and the fiber as is flows through my fingers can almost mesmerize. It’s a work out that ties me to generations of people.  I wonder how many other people have felt this meditation?

The roving was dyed tans and teals, in alternating segments, so I’m making a variegated yarn. It’s amazing that my yarn started off as part of a pile of fiber that looked something like this:

IMG_20170610_102157_919

I still haven’t figured out what to make from the yarn. Any ideas?

What Can You Do?

Influence

Last week, I attended three days of meetings with our office’s Employee Council. Most of what we discussed will be of no interest to anyone outside our office. However, there was one little session that our meeting facilitator, Brian, held. Actually, he interrupted a rather heated discussion to teach us a lesson.

You see, we are all rather concerned about our work, our offices (we are actually spread out all over the country), and our productivity. Everyone has some sort of passion about our organization.

Yet for the past 6 months or so, we feel like we have been spinning our wheels. We have been limited by various factors – some of which are completely outside of our control – and the results of which are a very frustrated Employee Council.

Brian drew the graphic above on the white board at the front of the conference room and said he was going to remind us of something very basic. We all have very large issues with which we are concerned – for example, the future of our office and organization. However, each of us individually cannot really make major changes in the organization as a whole.

What we CAN do are the small things that are within our sphere of influence. And as we take those little steps, we have the chance to grow our sphere of influence.

It might be obvious, but it really struck me.

How much have I allowed myself to get bogged down the last six months by the bigger picture and huge issues of this world? Yes, it is important to see the bigger picture and understand the issues, but I need to focus on doing the small steps that will open other opportunities for me to be even more productive and influential for my organization and my world.

So that is where I paused this weekend. I’m in charge of keeping our meeting notes during the 2017 year and I spent several hours this weekend typing up days of meeting notes and thinking through all of what has happened. I also figured out several things about my coworkers and organization, among other things. 😉

For now, my first steps in this process are to help our council chairwoman keep up on the minutia of the Council’s actions and documentation for the year. I’m going to stay on top of my projects at work, and I’m going to try to manage my life away from work in such a way as to allow my small fiber arts business to grow as much as possible.

Oh, and of course, I’m going to spend a bit of my time off enjoying the mountains and helping others do the same.

So what small steps can you take?