June is Antiquities Act Month

Chaco Culture NHP : Pueblo Bonito : NPS PhotoI can't find any official documentation that says as much, but here at Park Remark over this next month I'm going to focus on stories and weblinks that have to do with the Antiquities Act. On June 8th, the Act will be 100 years old. The Act out dates the National Park Service, but it is the Parks more than any other agency that has benefited from this century old legislation.

If you are unfamiliar with the Antiquities Act, today I've posted a number of links which should help introduce you to it. Because you may not have all day to read the material on all these sites, I've posted a paragraph from each site to help build the picture.

Wikipedia - Antiquites Act:
The Antiquities Act of 1906 is an act passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906 giving the President of the United States authority to restrict the use of particular public land owned by the federal government by executive order, bypassing Congressional oversight. The Act has been used over a hundred times since its passage.

16 USC 431-433 (The Law):
Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation 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, ...

The Story of the Antiquities Act:
online paper written in 1970 by NPS historian Ronald Lee
Rising public interest in the history and art of the southwestern Indians in the 1890's was accompanied by a swelling demand for authentic prehistoric objects. The desires and needs of growing numbers of collectors and dealers, exhibitors and curators, teachers and students, added to the native curiosity of cowboys, ranchers, and travelers, created an avid demand for original objects from the cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins of the Southwest. Most of these ruins were situated on public land or Indian reservations. There was no system of protection and no permit was needed to dig. Professional archaeologists were few in number; in America their science was in its infancy and little known to the public. The eager seeker for artifacts had one chief worry -- that some one else would reach a ruin rich in valuable objects before he did. The result was a rush on prehistoric ruins of the Southwest that went on, largely unchecked, until about 1904.

John Muir's Connection to the Antiquities Act:
Muir biographer, Thurman Wilkins, states "Muir was disturbed by the Santa Fe's railroad practice of carting petrified logs away to be hacked and polished into baubles for the tourist trade." In December of 1906, at Muir's suggestion, Roosevelt created Petrified Forest National Monument. Ultimately, in 1962, Congress added additional lands to the monument and it became Petrified Forest National Park. In 1908, also at Muir's prodding, Roosevelt created Grand Canyon National Monument. In 1919 Congress enlarged the monument and created what we know today as Grand Canyon National Park.

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