President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could destroy 22 archaeological sites in Arizona, according to a new report produced by the National Park Service. The report was obtained by the Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request but its findings may not matter to government contractors as they race to build the president’s racist vanity project.
The 22 archaeological sites in the report are all part of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and don’t include the many other sites along the U.S.-Mexico border that could be harmed by the construction of Trump’s wall. The new 123-page report warns that important artifacts, including stone tools and ceramics, will potentially be destroyed if Trump’s expedited plans for a wall are allowed to continue.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which was created in 1937 and encompasses 330,688 acres of land, already has 5-foot fencing along part of its southern border, but the Trump regime is trying to replace that with 30-foot wall. The area includes a prehistoric trade route rich in artifacts and is the only place where species like the Quitobaquito spring snail, the Sonoyta mud turtle, and the desert caper plant can be found anywhere on the planet, according to the National Park Service website.
The researchers who wrote the report for the NPS studied just 11 miles of the area where the new wall would be built and found hundreds of so-called “pre-contact” Native American artifacts. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seem intent on going ahead with construction anyway.
From the Washington Post:
The [CBP] officials said they have not delayed or otherwise altered their construction plans to conduct more detailed surveys or excavations in the area.
Officials said crews with earth-moving equipment have started installing barriers in a two-mile section east of the border crossing at Lukeville, Ariz., a particularly busy stretch for illegal crossings.
CBP officials acknowledged that trucks and earth-moving equipment driving through the fragile desert risk harming sites outside the specific construction zones. The officials said they are following Park Service guidance as to where workers can drive.
President Trump, a longtime white supremacist, has promised to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border while continually denigrating people coming across as “rapists,” and gang members. But the president is clearly worried that his wall isn’t getting built fast enough. Trump declared a national emergency to redirect $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to the project after Congress wouldn’t give him the money. Those funds are expected to create roughly 175 miles of wall by the end of 2020, though concerns from environmental and land rights groups are largely being ignored.
The president has reportedly encouraged government workers to do anything they can, even if it’s illegal, to build the wall in time for the November 2020 presidential elections.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” President Trump repeatedly told officials who were worried about breaking the law by ignoring so many regulations, according to multiple news outlets.
Given the current schedule, the portions of the wall that would destroy these archaeological sites are supposed to be completed by January 2020.
Strangely, the Department of the Interior has blacked out large sections of the report, including sketches of maps that were created in the 1950s and 1970s. Some of the 1970s maps appear to be credited to the Arizona State Museum and it’s not immediately clear why those would be redacted. The Trump regime has a long pattern of trying to conceal as much information from the American public as possible.
As the report notes, humans have been present in the area for at least 10,500 years and we still have a lot to learn about the people who previously inhabited the region. The area also includes evidence of ancient cemeteries in the Arizona desert, according to one expert who spoke with the Washington Post. And if we’ve learned anything from Hollywood, it’s never a good idea to go messing around with ancient cemeteries.
Kevin Dahl, who works for the National Parks Conservation Association, spoke to the Washington Post and probably said it best, calling the wall “insane.”
“We’re destroying what the wall is supposed to protect,” Dahl said.
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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog
Featured image is from ACLU