In the early 1900s, there was a growing concern about protecting prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts. These were primarily located in the west. Private collectors were removing artifacts at an alarming rate. John F. Lacey, Iowa Congressman and chair of the House Committee on Public Lands, traveled to the southwest in 1902 to see the situation for himself. He came to the conclusion that these valuable cultural resources needed immediate protection.
On this date in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Act into law. On September 24th of that year, Roosevelt named Devil’s Tower in Wyoming as the first National Monument. He went on to designate seventeen more National Monuments, including the Grand Canyon.
The Antiquities Act gives the President the sole authority to designate public lands as “National Monuments” and to set them aside as protected areas. National Monuments are different than National Parks because the parks require Congressional approval. The Act also requires a Federal Antiquities Permit for any excavation at a National Monument.
The Verendrye National Monument was established at Crow Flies High Butte in North Dakota in 1917. It commemorated the Verendrye expedition that explored the northern Great Plains. It was located on the site used as an observation point by the sons of Verendrye during their exploration of the area. However, it was later determined that the site was not accurate. It was withdrawn as a National Monument in 1956 and the land was transferred to the State. Ironically, new research indicates that the site may indeed be where the explorers viewed the Missouri River in 1742. North Dakota does not currently have any National Monuments.
The Antiquities Act is not without controversy. Some feel it gives the President too much authority. They say current use of the Act goes beyond the original intent. Designating land as a National Monument takes it out of the hands of citizens. Those opposed to the Act say that it should be a matter for Congress, not for the President alone. Presidents still designate National Monuments. George W. Bush named five and President Obama has named three.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
National Park Service. "http://www.nps.gov/archeology/TOOLS/LAWS/AntAct.htm" http://www.nps.gov/archeology/TOOLS/LAWS/AntAct.htm Accessed May 7, 2015.
The Cedar Mesa Project. "http://bcn.boulder.co.us/environment/cacv/cacvregs.htm%20Accessed%20May%207" http://bcn.boulder.co.us/environment/cacv/cacvregs.htm Accessed May 7 , 2015.
The Heritage Foundation. "http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/03/the-antiquated-act-time-to-repeal-the-antiquities-act" http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/03/the-antiquated-act-time-to-repeal-the-antiquities-act Accessed May 7, 2015.
National Parks Traveler. "http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/07/pruning-parks-verendrye-national-monument-1917-19566324%20Accessed%20May%207" http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/07/pruning-parks-verendrye-national-monument-1917-19566324 Accessed May 7 , 2015.
The Heritage Foundation. "http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/03/the-antiquated-act-time-to-repeal-the-antiquities-act" http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/03/the-antiquated-act-time-to-repeal-the-antiquities-act Accessed May7, 2015.