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Local News

NV Tribal Nations push for Bahsahwahbee National Monument

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Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service

Native American tribes in Nevada are calling for designation of a new national monument within the National Park System in east central Nevada.

They say Bahsahwahbee, commonly known as Swamp Cedars in White Pine County, holds cultural and spiritual significance for tribal nations.

Alvin Marques, chairman of the Ely Shoshone Tribe, explained Bahsahwahbee was a place of religious gatherings, healing ceremonies and celebrations, which made it a target for settlers who expanded into Indigenous “Newe territories” of the Western Shoshone Tribe. It was also the site where the largest known Indian massacre in U.S. history took place.

Marques said the federal government now has the chance to stand with tribes and honor Bahsahwahbee.

“It, in the past, was a place of celebration and became a place of mourning,” Marques emphasized “It means enough to me that it needs to be protected forever. It would mean a lot for all the tribes involved and it’s way overdue.”

He pointed out before the tragedies, Bahsahwahbee was a place of happiness and should be remembered for both the good and bad. He added people from across the Great Basin still go to the area to visit their ancestors, pray and hold ceremonies. Three tribes are collecting signatures with the goal of getting Bahsahwahbee designated as a national monument.

While he cannot speak for all Nevadans, Marques suspects many in the Silver State probably are not aware of what happened at Bahsahwahbee. He feels confident high-ranking government officials are demonstrating strong support to stand with the tribes to preserve and commemorate what Marques calls a “sacred place.”

“Time is running out, so we need action now,” Marques stressed. “It’s time for the federal government and our representatives to center our tribes and our history, and do the right thing, which is how the tribes have proposed this monument.”

He added a national monument designation within the National Park System also would help familiarize more people with the Bahsahwahbee story. Those opposed to the monument recognition argued Nevada already has too much public land where uses are restricted, but proponents argue this is false.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.