THE OPEN PLATEAU (continued)
In the summer of 1902, Lacey visited the Southwest and discovered the depth of resistance to the proposal. Hewett served as his guide in northern New Mexico, and the men found that many New Mexicans opposed the project. Even the more "enlightened" factions of the Santa Fe community expressed reservations about the new park. An editorial in the New Mexican during Lacey's stay again supported the principle of the park, but cautioned: "Not an acre more than necessary . . . should be included in the area reserved. New Mexico is being plastered up with forest and other reservations which are at least three times the area necessary to serve the purpose for which they are created." 
Westerners were responding to the aggressive conservation policies of Theodore Roosevelt. They long resented the power of the federal government over what they felt was their land, and Roosevelt's ascendance frightened western constituencies. The idea of withdrawing land from the public domain inevitably met strong resistance in the West. Many in the region believed that bureaucrats in Washington, D. C. too often made the decisions that determined their economic future.  The national park idea was only taking shape, and except to the far-sighted, the establishment of the National Park Service offered little obvious benefit. To some, Lacey's Pajarito Plateau proposition seemed just another example of government officials whimsically taking away someone else's ability to make a living.
The astute Lacey recognized the importance of mustering support in the West. He already encountered western opposition to previous restrictions on public land that he proposed, and he knew that he would have to accommodate them if any of his future measures were to pass Congress. These factors, and Hewett's persistent coaxing, convinced Lacey to compromise. In 1903, he revised the bill, reduced the acreage drastically, and reentered it as H. R. 7269.  A pragmatic accommodation, the new bill stood a better chance of passage than its predecessors. In order to appease local stockmen, the size of the proposed park was reduced from the original 153,620 acres to 55 sections, about 35,000 acres. Although the compromise satisfied local interests, park advocates were not pleased.
Anthropologists and Archeologists also recognized the significance of preventing vandalism in southwestern ruins. Headed by the Reverend Henry Mason Baum, the founder of the Records of the Past Society and the editor of its journal, they began to make inroads to establish a favorable intellectual climate in which to pass legislation to preserve archeological ruins. Americans began to recognize the cultural value of the North American continent, and the fervent nationalism of the turn of the century helped their cause. The perspective of the scientists, however, was often different from that of government officials looking to protect ruins or local merchants trying to attract tourists.
Baum found Lacey's revision unacceptable. In 1902, he headed an expedition of the Records of the Past Society to the Southwest that visited a number of archeological sites, including the Pajarito region. Despite his lack of formal training, Baum saw himself as the preeminent Americanist on the continent. While quite impressed with the Chaco Canyon region, upon his return he belittled the national park qualifications of the Pajarito bill in the society's journal, Records of the Past.  The membership of the society included many influential archeologists, and Baum's contentions were the damning blow that soon came back to haunt the park effort.
New opposition also arose to Lacey's bill. The GLO transmitted the measure to other Government agencies that administered land in the region. In January 1903, Clinton J. Crandall, the Superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School who doubled as the agent for area pueblos, tried to have the boundaries of Santa Clara Reservation extended. His superiors informed him that the lands he wanted were already reserved within the temporary withdrawal of 1900. Crandall expressed his dismay to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He felt that the park proposal was inappropriate. "It is a locality not visited frequently by tourists or others," he wrote. "If instead of creating a national park, this land could be set aside for the benefit of the Santa Clara Indians . . . it would serve every purpose."  The ruins were safer in Indian hands than as a national park, he contended, and cited Baum's article as evidence that the park idea was flawed. The Santa Clara claim antedated the park proposal, and Crandall believed that it should take precedence. Since both agencies were divisions of the Department of the Interior, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs requested an inspection of the area. GLO Special Agent Stephen J. Holsinger was appointed to the task.
Holsinger had long been the man in the field for archeological inspections by the Department of the Interior. Prior to the Pajarito proposal, Holsinger reviewed a wide range of cases. In 1900, he visited Chaco Canyon to report on Richard Wetherill's unauthorized excavations. He broke up a ring of "pot-hunters" in Arizona in late 1902 and inspected the Montezuma Castle and other archeological sites. He arranged to place a watchman at the proposed Petrified Forest National Park. When GLO officials wanted an important inspection in the Southwest, they nearly always called on Holsinger.
By 1903, a national park in the Pajarito region had become the focus of conflicting interests. Advocates of archeological preservation lined up in favor of the park. Local stockmen expressed the traditional western fear of centralized authority. The rights of Native Americans in the area also became a significant obstacle. Stockmen, area homesteaders, the Santa Fe community, and area Pueblos would all have to be satisfied with a proposal before a national park on the Pajarito Plateau had become reality.
Compromise was already an integral part of any solution. Park advocates sensed that they would have to make concessions to get what they wanted. At the turn of the century, the best national parks were large areas. Most allowed grazing under a system of permits. Stockmen were powerful in territorial New Mexico, and park advocates were willing to allow grazing in the proposed park in order to secure the support of this important constituency. Even Hewett understood this reality. Perhaps the most influential figure in American archeology in the first decade of the twentieth century, he envisioned a national park for archeological study. Grazing did not interfere with his objectives, and he placed his growing national influence behind the park effort.
Stephen J. Holsinger's job was to determine the validity of the various claims and come up with an equitable solution. His report evaluated the contentions of each group and strongly sided with park advocates. Holsinger characterized the Santa Claras as a "distinctly agricultural people," intimating that Crandall's assertion of the need of the Santa Clara Pueblo for more land was "not well-founded." Its agricultural economy made the addition of pasture land unnecessary. Holsinger noted that vandalism remained endemic, and there was strong support for the park in Santa Fe. Holsinger also discounted the notion that the area was too remote for a park, arguing that the difficulty would not deter the truly interested. He incorrectly claimed that existing national park regulations in 1904 provided for roads to be "speedily built."  In his mind, a national park on the Pajarito Plateau was an important step forward.
Since Hewett supported Lacey's revision of the bill and Holsinger reported that the other objections were specious, there appeared to be no further obstacles to the establishment of the national park. Lacey's committee took Holsinger's report and revised it to allow the Secretary of the Interior to permit grazing within the boundaries of the park. They also decreased the size to a forty-section tract that included Otowi, Tsankawi, and Puye, but which left out the Rito de Los Frijoles ruins. The area that included Frijoles Canyon was proposed as a forest reserve, and privately owned land separated its ruins from the rest of the park. Given the limits of the compromise, there was no way to include the Rito as a contiguous section. The Department of the Interior was willing to take a park in the northern half of the plateau. The Bureau of Forestry approved the new plan, as did the Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs, A. C. Tonner, and GLO Commissioner W. A. Richards. All possible opposition was legislated out of the bill, and passage again appeared imminent.
Despite general concurrence among Federal agencies, many New Mexicans were still uncomfortable with the ramifications of a national park. From their perspective, the Government managed too much of New Mexico and residents of the state had little part in shaping their own destiny. They opposed any measure that gave Washington additional control over lands in the territory. When the newest edition of the park bill debated in a House of Representatives Public Lands Committee hearing on January 11, 1905, it was paired with a bill to establish the Mesa Verda [Verde] National Park. Both bills were closely tied to the movement to preserve American antiquities, which the Lodge-Rodenberg Bill personified in 1904-05.
The Lodge-Rodenberg bill, of which Henry Mason Baum was the major proponent, caused serious controversy at the end of the prior congressional session in 1904. The bill raised objections among westerners for it granted the Secretary of the Interior unlimited discretion over unreserved public lands. The Smithsonian Institution publicly opposed the bill and sent its representatives to the floor of Congress to lobby against it. The crisis fractured the preservation constituency. With Lodge-Rodenberg again current, opposition to national park bills became prominent.
Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006