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Biden commits to protecting Nevada’s Spirit Mountain during tribal nations summit

This is an image of the rugged desert landscape of the Spirit Mountain wilderness area in southern Nevada.
Ken Lund
Flickr Creative Commons
The Spirit Mountain wilderness area in Southern Nevada is of great spiritual and cultural significance to tribal nations in the region.

President Joe Biden pledged to protect an expanse of land in the Mountain West that tribes have been trying to defend for decades during a speech Wednesday at the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit.

President Biden said he will designate Spirit Mountain, or Avi Kwa Ame in the Mojave language, and its surrounding wilderness in southern Nevada as a new national monument through the 1906 Antiquities Act, thereby safeguarding it from industrial development.

The 450,000-acre area is sacred to 12 tribal nations, including the Fort Mojave Tribe in Nevada, Arizona and California.

”I’m committed to protecting this sacred place that is central to the creation story of so many tribes that are here today,” said Biden, who spoke during the opening day of the two-day summit. “And I’m grateful to so many of you who have led the fight to protect it.”

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (D), who sponsored legislation to establish Spirit Mountain as a national monument, told the Nevada Independent she expects the designation to be made official in the new year.

Biden also revealed a 10-year plan to revitalize Native languages, and set new requirements for how federal agencies consult with tribes.

“Consultation has to be a two-way nation-to-nation exchange of information,” Biden said.

The president said he’s also requesting more than $9 billion for the Indian Health Service, which provides medical care to members of the 574 federally recognized tribes. Moreover, he’s asking Congress to make the funding a mandatory part of the federal budget.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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