The proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument spans 703 square miles south of the Las Vegas Valley, stretching from eastern edge of the Lake Mead Recreation Area to the California border. The land, listed as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1999, is sacred to a dozen tribes; the Yuman-speaking tribes regard it as the place of their creation. At the eastern edge of the monument, Spirit Mountain rises toward the desert sky; the Mojave tribe calls it Avi Kwa Ame (pronounced Ah-VEE kwa-meh). In the vastness of this magical place, the mountain is the holy of holies, the center of the universe. The land of the proposed monument is bisected by U.S. 95; near its center, an island in the wilderness, is the town of Searchlight. Monument status — which President Joe Biden said in November is forthcoming — would protect the remainder of the area, preserving it not only as a place of cultural and spiritual value, but also as a zone of stunning natural beauty and biodiversity.
Where the Spirit Dwells
Revered by Native American tribes and celebrated for its desert beauty, Avi Kwa Ame may soon become Nevada’s fourth national monument. Photographer L.E. Baskow recently traveled there to witness its majesty and document its wildlife.
This story first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of rjmagazine, a quarterly published inside the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
March 11, 2023 - 11:17 pm
Updated March 12, 2023 - 12:17 am