Arizona State Representative Myron Tsosie drops bill to save archeology commission
Arizona House Democrats
Arizona State Representative Myron Tsosie (D-Chinle, District 7) introduced a bill Thursday to save the Governor's Archeology Advisory Commission, two days after a House committee voted to sunset the commission. The party-line vote by members of the House Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee was an affront to Arizona tribes because of the commission's valuable advisory role in identifying and protecting indigenous antiquities and archeological sites from destruction. Tsosie's House Bill 2570 would extend the commission for another three years.
Tsosie is a member of the Natural Resources committee and tried, along with other Democratic members, to stop the motion to sunset the commission. The following day, Wednesday, was Indian Nations and Tribal Day at the Capitol, where tribal leaders learned that the commission's future was in jeopardy. A Senate panel has since voted to renew the commission, but it will require a bill to pass the both the House and Senate to continue the commission.
"This issue of protecting our sacred archeological sites is vitally important to all indigenous communities in this state," said Tsosie, D-Chinle. "This Commission is an essential guiding voice for the State Historic Preservation Officer, providing invaluable insight in the officer’s role to protect sacred indigenous antiquities and archeological sites from destruction. The Republicans on the committee failed to understand or respect the need to protect these sacred sites. I made a motion to delay the vote so the committee could hear testimony from tribal leaders, but that motion was rejected along party lines. The timing of this decision could not be worse. Also on Tuesday, members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus learned that the Attorney General is conducting a criminal investigation into the destruction of indigenous artifacts by the Arizona Parks Department under former director Sue Black. We clearly need more oversight and protections, not less."