Kw'tsan National Monument


Act Now — Kw'tsán National Monument (protectkwtsan.org)


 

News Articles:

 
 

 

YUMA, Ariz. — The Department of the Interior today announced a $25 million investment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to protect and maintain two areas important for resilience and drought mitigation in the Southwest — the Yuma East Wetlands and Topock Marsh in Arizona. 

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have historic new resources to safeguard western communities in the face of severe drought conditions, restore ecosystems and build a sustainable future,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain. “Building on our significant milestones this year to protect the Colorado River System, we are continuing to bring every tool and resource to bear to protect the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System and increase water efficiency across the West.” 

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton joined leadership of the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, the city of Yuma, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area at the Yuma East Wetlands to make the announcement. 

“Protecting these wetlands is important to the local communities as well as to the greater health of the lower basin of the Colorado River,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Touton. “Through historic resources provided through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have the opportunity to invest in projects like these to combat the impacts of long-term drought for current and future generations.” 

The Yuma East Wetlands will receive $5 million to upgrade infrastructure to ensure the continued existence of the marshes for future generations. Improvements include designing and replacing the system used to move water around the wetlands, replacing pumps currently fueled by diesel with electrical pumps, extending concrete canals and bringing electrical power to the conservation area to allow for technology updates. The area is widely utilized for public recreation and provides habitat for wildlife including endangered species. 

The 4,000-acre Topock Marsh in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge will receive $20 million to install two new screw pumps, replace a failing concrete canal with three miles of pipeline, design and build a new water control structure, and bring in electrical power for the pumps to increase efficiency of the marsh’s water delivery system. Topock Marsh provides habitat to the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and the only Northern Mexican Garter Snake population identified on the lower Colorado River. 

The Colorado River Basin provides water for more than 40 million people, fuels hydropower resources in seven U.S. states, supports 5.5 million acres of agriculture and agricultural communities across the West, and is a crucial resource for 30 Tribal Nations and two states in Mexico. Despite improved hydrology in recent months, the historic 23-year drought has led to record low water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  The Biden-Harris administration has led a comprehensive effort to address the ongoing drought and strengthen water security across the region now and into the future. 

Through the America the Beautiful initiative and the global Freshwater Challenge, the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on the first-ever national conservation goal to protect at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – accelerating locally-led efforts to tackle the world’s intertwined water, climate, and nature crises. 

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda represents the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and is providing much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including rural water, water storage, conservation and conveyance, nature-based solutions, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination. Since the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed in November 2021, Reclamation has announced nearly $3 billion for 430 projects.  


 


 
Indian Country: Support the Kw'tsán National Monument Proposal

Dear Tribal Leaders,

On behalf of the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, we are elated to officially announce the beginning of our public campaign to designate the Kw'tsán National Monument (KNM). As Quechan People, we stand as ancestral guardians of our homelands and we are committed to preserving our cultural tapestry for generations to come. We hope you will join us in this effort to protect our lands and sacred places forever.

Background:

The Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, a resilient sovereign nation, stands at a pivotal moment in our history. We are urging President Biden to utilize the Antiquities Act to designate the Kw'tsán National Monument, a protected area of more than 390,000 acres northwest of our reservation boundaries. We have been here since time immemorial and our enduring presence in these landscapes predates political boundaries. Our cultural richness is interwoven with our creation story, where Kukamat crafted the Kw'tsáan people from Avi Kwa Ame into the lower Colorado River Valley. The presence of our ancestors' footprints are etched in the region’s canyons, mountains, river banks, prayer and sleeping circles, trails, geoglyphs and petroglyphs. Our spiritual, traditional, and cultural practices reflect our profound ancestral relationship with the land which forms the very fabric of our existence. This national monument is the first step in reclaiming our inherent sovereign rights to care for this region as co-managers alongside federal agencies.

The Need for Protection:

The Quechan people have battled for our homelands since the arrival of the Spaniards and U.S. government. Today, our sacred homelands still face imminent threats of destruction from various factors. Natural resource extraction, unchecked development, recreational misuse, and the escalating issues posed by the climate crisis are some of the challenges we face everyday. Additionally, our Tribe has fought against mining destruction and drilling activities for decades to prevent the desecration of our sacred places, specifically at Indian Pass. To address these threats and secure a lasting legacy for future generations, we are advocating for protections afforded under a national monument designation. This region is abundant in biodiversity, wildlife habitats, and beautiful natural formations. The interconnected ecological and cultural values throughout the entire Colorado River corridor deserve robust and diligent stewardship. We must establish holistic protections for our human and nonhuman relatives in the region to honor our spiritual connections to this place. We seek to uplift the well-being of the entire landscape, and therefore ourselves, to step further into our collective healing as Indigenous people.

Key Points from the Executive Summary:

The KNM proposal aligns with domestic and international laws which protect Indigenous rights. It emphasizes our commitment to preserve our sacred lands and spiritual connections. By urging President Biden to designate KNM, we hold the United States accountable to its trust obligation to federally recognized Tribes and demand stewardship authorities for the region. As co-managers, we will ensure the monument management plan equitably incorporates our Traditional Ecological Knowledge with western science, and we will work with agencies to ensure the implementation of day-to-day management decisions are in accordance with our Tribal values. This collaborative approach will introduce innovative land management practices to the area and properly recognize our Tribal sovereignty.

Call to Action:

As we embark on this journey, we urgently seek your support as Tribal Nations. We kindly ask you to consider the following actions:

  1. Review the attached Executive Summary for a comprehensive understanding of the Kw'tsán National Monument proposal.
  2. Engage in discussions about this campaign with your community and broader network to garner additional support.
  3. Consider issuing a letter or resolution of support.
  4. Attend events hosted by the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe and our allies in 2024 to strengthen the monument campaign.
  5. Voice your support for the monument to the Biden administration.

Our Outreach and Meeting Plans:

As we move forward with our outreach, we plan to host meetings and events at the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe to engage Tribal Nations, allies, and stakeholders. We are eager to collaborate with those who share our commitment to protecting our heritage, national treasures, and cultural landscapes.

Your commitment to our campaign is paramount and strengthens our determination to preserve our culture, lands, and future. As Tribal Nations, we share the common goal to create permanent protections for our ancestral homelands. We find hope and solidarity within our interconnected endeavors. The Quechan Tribe looks forward to your support in building momentum for our cause throughout Indian Country. Together, we continue to carry forth the prayers, ceremonies, offerings, dignity, and dreams of all Indigenous people.

Should you have any questions or require additional information, please contact info@protectkwtsan.org. We will be in touch soon with more information about our upcoming informational meeting(s) so you may hear directly from our community. We will also create social media pages and an official website to distribute information and connect with our supporters.

Thank you for your time and unwavering dedication to the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe.

Warm regards,

Fort Yuma Quechan Tribal Council


 




 


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