Way back in the Obama Administration, Bears Ears National Monument was proposed. This national monument in Utah had many Native American grave sites. Thanks to Greg Melville in his book Over My Dead Body that I read and liked very much I learned about both places. Before we arrived there, Organ Pipe National Monument was the scene of some break-ins and the murder of at least one park ranger in roughly the same area. Organ Pipe was also the scene of many sacred American sites that were treasured by up to a dozen tribal groups that I didn’t know about. Organ Pipe was on the Mexican border. While in Organ Pipe that Ruth & I were visiting we saw a drug bust and the visitor center was broken into.
Obama left the Presidential office. I never knew why Bears Ears was finally established by the next Administration. Bears Ears was established after we left the area. The Government was not good at letting the public know about the sacredness of certain areas. All I know is that while we were at Organ Pipe mayhem happened in the area. We were just tourist visiting this National Monument.
Cherokee and Tohono O’odham people lived here was all that we knew about both national monuments. We also knew that some very old Saguaro cacti were in the desert near us as we watched the drug bust unfold among them. We did not learn about the ongoing damage to Organ Pipe that Greg Melville said was happening or about its sacredness to the local people.
The visitor center in Organ Pipe was at the halfway point between the start of this National Monument and the Mexican town of Sonoyta that we hoped to visit. I recall asking the ranger if it was safe to visit Sonoyta at the other end of Organ Pipe and the American town of Lukeville that we had to pass through to go to Mexico. It’s perfectly safe to go to Sonoyta.” I was told “because a drug cartel is in charge and no one steps out of line as a result. We ended up abandoning our plan. to go to Mexico at this time. The drug bust had made us wary.
More recently we returned to this area. We were in Tucson, AZ and decided to visit Bears Ears in nearby Utah. We spent the night in Blanding and the next day we visited Natural Bridges National Monument. We never made it to Organ Pipe National Monument again.