Letter to the President from Diverse Scholars

July 8, 2013

Dear President Obama —

As historians, archeologists, geographers, and cultural preservation experts, we write to express our strong support of protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region as a new Bureau of Land Management National Monument. Possessing such nationally unique resources as the Butterfield Trail, Billy the Kid’s Outlaw Rock, Geronimo’s Cave, Kilbourne Hole, and Aden Lava Flow, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region is an international treasure, characterized by unique and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. We are confident that supporting the conservation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks assets will protect our rich cultural heritage for generations to come, and be a beacon for those eager to explore one of the most beautiful and historically rich regions of the American Southwest.

There are 243 known archaeological sites within the proposed Monument boundaries. According to a recent cultural and historical report, there could easily be more than five thousand archaeological sites, most of which have not been recorded or studied yet. The result of this interaction between both pre-historic and historic native and non-native peoples with these lands has resulted in a unique and irreplaceable cultural landscape. The past and current use of these lands by native peoples from the area and its continued importance in their modern lives attest to its significance as a traditional cultural property.

In addition to the unique features listed above, the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Monument also includes stunning petroglyph and pictographs, sites associated with El Camino Real, the Gadsden Purchase with Mexico that gave the Continental United States its final form, New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps projects, and rare World War II aerial targets.

Evidence from Paleo-Indian, pre-historic, pre-European, Spanish Colonial, classic Western, World War II and modern history combine to weave an unrivaled tapestry of pre, early, and contemporary and American history and culture. In addition to protecting our shared cultural patrimonio, native wildlife and habitats, including threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, will also flourish as a result of the Monument designation.

We have an amazing opportunity to protect and promote these singular treasures as a National Monument. Doing so will leave a lasting legacy for our region, and indeed our country. Please continue in the bipartisan tradition of protecting America’s most unique lands and historical sites by joining with us to support establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2013.

Dr. Troy Ainsworth
Executive Director, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association

Pat Beckett
Author & Archaeologist/Historian

Marglyph Berrier
Secretary of the New Mexico Rock Art Council

Dr. Christopher Brown
Professor of Geography

Tom Carroll
Former Superintendent of Salinas National Monument (NPS retired)

Dr. Miriam S. Chaiken
Professor of Anthropology

Dr. W. Thomas Conelly
Professor of Cultural Anthropology

David Chavez
Board of Mesilla Valley Preservation Alliance

Dr. Paul Deason
Member of the Doña Ana County Archeology Society

Dr. Pete Eidenbach
Author and Professor of Archeology

Jean Fulton
Public Historian and Former Executive Director of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association

Billy G. Garrett
Doña Ana County Commissioner and Former Deputy General Superintendent Gateway National Recreation Area (NPS Retired)

Cynthia R. Garrett
Former Superintendent Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island (NPS Retired)

George Hackler
Author of The Butterfield Trail of New Mexico, Past President of the Mesilla Valley Historical Society

Dr. Jon Hunner
Professor of New Mexico History

Eric Leifeld
Board Member of the Mesilla Valley Preservation Incorporated

Alex Mares
Anthropologist and Southwest Tribal Liaison

Dr. Dwight T. Pitcaithley
Former Chief Historian National Park Service (NPS Retired)

Rebecca Proctor
New Mexico Professional Archeologist

Polly Shaafsma
Author, Archeologist, and Renown Southwest Rock Art Expert

Mary Kay Shannon
Board Member of Doña Ana County Historical Society

LeRoy Unglaub
Southern New Mexico Rock Art Research