Mojave tribes seek national monument at Spirit Mountain


Rising above a corner of southwestern Nevada, Spirit Mountain is a sacred place for Native American tribes.

An effort is underway to protect the lands and heritage for future generations.

Los Angeles Times Louis Sahagún joined “LA Times Today” host Lisa McRee to talk about preservation efforts at Spirit Mountain.

Sahagún shared where Spirit Mountain is and why it is so important to native tribes.

“About a four-hour drive east of downtown Los Angeles, Spirit Mountain rises like a sentinel over a virgin land of boulders, granite outcrops, gorges that change color by the minute. It is strewn with petroglyphs, filled with paintings made 6,000 years ago.It is also a place that houses living guiding spirits important to the tribes…It is the home of spiritual entities who have given the importance to the landscape for the very first settlers of the Southwest.

The mountain’s history dates back 9,000 years. The natives treat Spirit Mountain as a kind of church. And now they are trying to preserve it federally by making it the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.

“The tribes of Fort Mojave believe that the entities guiding them to Spirit Mountain empowered and compelled them to protect it from exploitation,” Sahagún said. “Wind farm developers have had an eye [on Spirit Mountain] for a long time. You have this tribe that works on behalf of 10 Mojave tribes. You also have this eclectic group of artists, poets and activists who love this mountain almost as much as Native Americans.

The tribes also want to use the lands around Spirit Mountain to develop their businesses.

“What they are offering to small towns like Searchlight in the vicinity is that they could become the stewards of the desert,” Sahagún said. “They could rebrand, beyond casinos, and implement ecotourism.”

In the meantime, advocates are waiting for Congress to preserve the land or for President Joe Biden to designate it as a national monument.

Click the arrow above to watch the full interview.

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