Administrative History
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Between 1916 and 1932, the move to establish a national park on the Pajarito Plateau again gathered momentum. After the establishment of the Bandelier National Monument, Edgar L. Hewett became an obstacle to the project, but by the early 1920s, he and the National Park Service joined forces to offer the most comprehensive proposal to date. The Forest Service resisted the takeover, but the Park Service was in a commanding position. Chances for a Pajarito Plateau national park looked excellent. Internal resistance within the NPS, however, thwarted the agency, and instead of a large national park, the agency assumed responsibility for the administration of the Bandelier National Monument.

The initial proclamation of the monument was no guarantee that attempts to create a national park on the Pajarito Plateau were over. Assistant Secretary of the Interior Stephen T. Mather, who became the first director of the National Park Service, did not regard the monument proclamation as final. Nor did William B. Douglass and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. Douglass publicly lambasted the Department of the Interior for its "deaf ear" and to work for the park, he founded the New Mexico National Parks Association. The Chamber of Commerce appointed another committee to work for passage of the bill. [1] It enlisted Senator Catron, and in December of 1915, he introduced another measure, S. 2542, to establish a national park on the Pajarito Plateau.

Although Catron believed that the new measure would receive the support the others lacked, S. 2542 had serious flaws. While the Department of the Interior deemed the previous bill unsuitable because of its compromises, the new one was sure to encounter resistance in New Mexico. It appeared to abrogate the rights of local constituencies.

Opposition to the new measure arose instantly. In December 1915, Douglass wrote a letter to the editor of the New Mexican that supported the bill, sight unseen. Harold Brook, by now firmly ensconced on the Pajarito Plateau, attacked Douglass' stand. "The settlers [of the region] contend," Brook wrote, "that the difference between the benefits gained by the judicious handling of the ruins, as they are, and the benefits gained by a park, would not justify, morally or commercially, the unfair unreasonable ruination of a great many homesteaders." [2] Forced to again consider substantial local opposition, Douglass, Hewett, and the rest of the Chamber of Commerce met in February 1916, to iron out their differences.

Four clauses in the bill created obstacles for either Hewett or Douglass. No one was satisfied with the way the bill approached the rights of Native Americans. There was no clause to allow grazing within the boundaries of the park. This was sure to enrage Harold Brook and the powerful New Mexico Stockmen's Association. The name of the park was again to be "Pajarito." Hewett was pleased with that choice but it bothered other members of the Chamber of Commerce. "Pajarito" was no easier to pronounce in 1916 than it was in 1900. Two other clauses worried Hewett. The bill prohibited taking original and duplicate specimens outside of New Mexico, and it severely limited excavation. This was a distinct threat to Hewett's power base. S. 2542 appeared to be as questionable as earlier efforts.

As a result, the group offered a compromise that changed its strategy but not its ultimate goal. Instead of a national park on the plateau, the men proposed four national monuments. Along with the existing Bandelier, they requested the Pajarito National Monument, which would be north of the Ramon Vigil Grant and included the northern bank of the Guaje river and its ruins. Puye and Shufinne would become the Santa Clara National Monument, while ruins in the Jemez Mountains were included in the Jemez National Monument. Despite the change in tactics, the objective remained the same. From the perspective of the committee, the "creation of the four national monuments on the Pajarito Plateau will hasten the creation of the Pajarito National Park." [3]

But the fragile coalition dissolved. Hewett and Douglass could not stay on the same side of any issue for long. Although they both favored a national park, they had different ideas about its purpose. Douglass and the Chamber of Commerce wanted Santa Fe to develop as an important tourist center. In their view, the surface ruins in the region were a major attraction for visitors. Hewett was interested in what lay below the ground. He worried that the park would curtail his fieldwork. In April, 1916, published an attack on S. 2542 in El Palacio, the Journal of the Museum of New Mexico. He contended that the bill had little support in New Mexico and that it severely restricted the advancement of archeological science. The establishment of a national park offered little economic advantage, he asserted, and even the name suggested for the park, "Cliff Cities," was misleading. Differing perspectives upon the purpose of the park created divisions among those who supported the principle of a national park on the Pajarito Plateau. [4]

After reading Hewett's account of the shortcomings of the new measure, Douglass responded aggressively in the New Mexican. He contended that Hewett was misleading the public. While many influential people did not support S. 2542, nearly everyone supported the idea of a national park on the Pajarito Plateau. Douglass quoted letters from Bond & Nohl, a major livestock enterprise, revealing that the ranching community supported the project so long as the Department of the Interior permitted grazing within the park. Douglass had notes from the Governor of New Mexico and various departmental officials that also supported the concept of the park. He pointed out that the park would make a sizable economic contribution to the region, for the many visitors would have to be fed and lodged in the north central New Mexico region. In addition to countering Hewett's objections, Douglass offered advantages of the proposal. He revealed that the new bill would compel excavators to leave the relics they discovered either in a museum run by the State of New Mexico or in a new museum at either the Puye or Frijoles site.

Despite all the challenges Douglass offered to Hewett's arguments, he knew that S. 2542 was a mistake. Because the bill forbid grazing on the plateau, Douglass asserted that the New Mexico National Parks Association, of which he was the secretary, requested its withdrawal. In its current state, the bill would cause the livestock industry to oppose it. Yet in light of Hewett's attack, Douglass had to defend the proposition. If he did not, Hewett's prestige might turn the public against the project as a whole.

His rebuttal attacked Hewett personally, charging that malice inspired Hewett's opposition. Douglass contended that Hewett wrote the disparaging article only because the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce rejected his suggestion to call the park "Pajarito" instead of "Cliff Cities." [5] In Douglass' view, Hewett behaved in a manner unbecoming a man of influence, and his petulance was inappropriate in such an important situation.

Douglass' accusations were defendable. No stranger to controversy, Hewett once again placed his personal interests ahead of those of his neighbors. His article fragmented the coalition and led to public speculation that he had been working against the national park idea all along. Hewett's real objection to S. 2542 was the provision that prevented him from doing as he pleased with what he uncovered in the ruins on the Pajarito Plateau. His contention that no serious depredations occurred there in the preceding decade was essentially true. Because he controlled archeological investigation on the plateau through Judge A. J. Abbott, Hewett's friend who served as informal custodian of the monument from his summer home in Frijoles Canyon, and held simultaneous excavation permits for nearly every important ruin in the region, Hewett's permission was an essential prerequisite for all excavators. In 1916, Hewett ruled the Pajarito Plateau. The existing national monument allowed him to continue his reign; the park proposition might have ended it. Douglass believed that Hewett wrote the article to confuse the public in hopes of turning them against the idea of a national park in the Bandelier vicinity.

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006