The Antiquities Act at the end of the Obama administration


Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

In 1906, the US Congress passed the Antiquities Act to provide the President with extraordinary power to unilaterally designate important places of natural, cultural, or scientific importance as national monuments. While the initial concerns that prompted passage of the act centered around the protection of Native American heritage sites in the American Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon, the far-reaching Act has allowed for much more. President Theodore Roosevelt, in office at the time, used this newly-awarded power to name the first National Monument—Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Today, US presidents have cumulatively named 126 National Monuments, with the recent addition of two monuments designated by President Obama bringing his total designations to the most of any US president in history.

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