By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.
LAS VEGAS–Tomorrow, the Clark County Commission considers a resolution to support creation of a new national monument at Spirit Mountain, outside of Searchlight, to be called Avi Kwa’ Ame.
An Indigenous-led coalition has been working to establish the 450,000-acre monument since the 1990s.
A Swedish wind-power company has made an application to build in the area, which has heightened the pressure to more forward on the monument.
Craig Bakerjian, campaign manager for the Avi Kwa’ Ame Coalition, said the tribes consider the area to be of utmost importance – because to them, it is hallowed ground.
“It is the site of creation for the Mojave people,” said Bakerjian. “The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe view it as one of their most sacred spaces, and ten other Yuman-speaking tribes view that as a sacred spot.”
The Boulder City Council and the town advisory boards of Searchlight and Laughlin, plus the Laughlin Tourism Commission and Chamber of Commerce, have already declared their support.
Congresswomen Dina Titus and Susie Lee – both Las Vegas Democrats – are working on legislation to be introduced later this year in Congress.
Bakerjian said the idea of a new monument also is supported by a majority of Nevadans.
“A recent poll found that 70% of Nevadans support the designation of Avi Kwa’ Ame as a national monument,” said Bakerjian, “and to ensure that those spaces are not sold off to corporations.”
In the same poll, 39% of Nevadans said it’s important for officials to prioritize the protection of public lands. The coalition says hikers and off-roaders would still be able to use parts of the monument land.