ABSTRACT

CONGRESSIONAL INTEREST IN PROTECTION There was SOme interest in the protection and preservation of the ruins at least as early as 1891, when the legislature of Colorado memorialized Congress for the establishment of a national park on a part of the Ute Indian Reservation.! Several similar petitions were presented in the next few years. There were efforts in Congress to set aside Mesa Verde, at first under the name Colorado Cliff Dwellings National Park, and later with the name Mesa Verde. On February 22, 1901, Representative Shafroth of Colorado introduced a bill to create Colorado Cliff Dwellings National Park, but it was not reported.2 Later in the year he tried again, without success.s About the same time, Representative Bell ventured a bill, and Representative Patterson presented an amendment to the appropriation bill to provide $500 to purchase Mesa Verde from the Ute Indians, but failed. It was in 1901 that the Colorado Cliff Dwelling Association was authorized by Congress to lease for ten years from the Wiminuchi Band of Ute Indians some of the deeded land on which most of the ruins were located, to protect the ruins; but the lease was never made. Mrs. Gilbert McClurg, who organized and promoted the Association, worked diligently for several years on the project but failed to get the signatures of all the members of the tribal Council. This was not to come until 1913.4

Late in the year 1903, Shafroth tried again, unsuccessfully, and Representative Hogg of Colorado brought in a bill which was reported favorably by the Public Lands Committee, with the sugges-

Mesa Verde Park

tion that the name be changed to Mesa Verde and that a like area known as Pajarito-at present known as Bandelier National Monument and vicinity-be reserved in New Mexico.s

In December 1905 Representative Hogg introduced a Mesa Verde bill, and a month later Senator Patterson brought up one in the House. The Patterson bill was amended in the Senate to permit mining in the park except in areas one-half mile or less on each side of the ruins, but the Hogg bill permitted no mining, and it was the one which passed both houses with no debate and was signed by President Roosevelt on June 29, 1906. The fact that it passed without debate indicates the strong appeal of conservation of the cliff dwellings.6