Facebook Twitter

GROUP ASKS BANGERTER TO DELETE ANASAZI SITE FROM BID LIST

SHARE GROUP ASKS BANGERTER TO DELETE ANASAZI SITE FROM BID LIST

The Native American People's Historical Foundation, a non-profit intertribal group from the Four Corners area, has petitioned Gov. Norm Bangerter and the Utah State Division of Lands and Forestry to remove from public bid a parcel of land near Blanding.

The Land Board is accepting bids until Nov. 1 on the property. The foundation contends that ancient burial and antiquities sites of great historical, cultural and religious significance lie within the section.The property is a "school section" - land deeded to the Utah when it achieved statehood for the support of schools and managed by the Utah State Division of Lands and Forestry.

It is not the policy of the Land Board to calculate the worth of archaeological sites on state lands, said Kevin Carter, trust and asset unit manager for the board. "We haven't addressed that concept/policy question. That would have to be acted on directly by the Land Board."

The state Land Board bases its actions on an informal decision of the Utah attorney general's office that has not been tested in court. The opinion states that generally trust lands should be used to generate maximum revenue for the public schools.

An archaeologist who has inspected some of the ruins on the property said the site contains Anasazi settlements from the late Basketmaker, Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods and the central site, because of its unusual layout, was probably of regional ritual importance.

Harold A. Dawavendewa, chairman of the foundation, asked that the group be allowed to purchase the land at "a fair market price." Dawavendewa, a Hopi accountant from Page, Ariz., and his group envision a national site for the gathering, preservation and teaching of the histories of Indians of Utah and elsewhere.

In a May 10 letter to the governor, Dawavendewa asked that the group be allowed to purchase the land and preserve ancient grave sites and antiquities according to federal and state laws while utilizing the 533-acre parcel for a records center for Indians. Bangerter has not responded to the letter.

But others are evidently also interested.

-Since the land was offered for bid this spring, "dig" holes have peppered the site as pothunters have begun illegal excavations.

-The city of Blanding has expressed interest in purchasing the land for a golf course.

-The College of Eastern Utah's San Juan Foundation bid on the property for scientific excavations.

-A local rancher is also interested in buying part of the land for cattle grazing.

Other lands near the Blanding school section site that were sold to private parties have been "chained" - a process where a chain is stretched between two bulldozers to clear sagebrush from the land. Ancient structures are, obviously, destroyed as well.