Thursday, September 30, 2010

Native Hawaiians and Army talk about Iwi Kupuna

DOI Secretary Pledges Support for Preservation Fund

Sept. 16, 2010: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar attended the summer business meeting of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) where he swore in the new Chairman of the ACHP, Milford Wayne Donaldson. Secretary Salazar’s remarks are below:

Secretary Salazar and USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman accepting the ACHP Award for Federal Preserve America Accomplishment for the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture support of the Colorado Preserve America Youth Summits provided by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Presenting the award was ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson

Secretary Salazar and USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman accepting the ACHP Award for Federal Preserve America Accomplishment for the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture support of the Colorado Preserve America Youth Summits provided by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Presenting the award was ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson
Thank you, members of the Council and all of you who are here standing up for the name of historic preservation and really walking the talk.

I want to make just a few quick comments about the effort and how we might go forward.

For me, every day, almost everywhere that I go, I see something that is so important about telling America’s story and preserving America’s story. Just within the last few days I had the honor of being one of the speakers at the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania where we are building a great memorial for 40 American heroes who gave their lives to basically protect the Capitol and to protect democracy here in America. And the day before with Governor Rendell and a number of other people in Philadelphia, we dedicated the beginnings of the American Revolution Center and the preservation of 78 acres of open space around Valley Forge National Historical Park that will make sure that that place and its signature moments in the Revolutionary War are preserved forever. And yesterday as I spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a group of about 2000-3000 people, I spoke to them about the importance of historic preservation within their communities.

And so, my life as Secretary of the Interior is really guided by the mission of what I consider the Department’s central mission to be and that is to serve as a custodian of America’s natural resources and also to serve as a custodian of America’s history.

On the natural resources part, we do that in our work through the preservation of lands and open spaces or management of the oceans and a whole host of other things.

On the historic preservation side, we obviously do it in partnership with the Council but with so many others at our National Parks. Our National Parks and many of our BLM lands are very special places where we can tell a great part of America’s story. Part of that is because there are so many visitors that we get to our places, some 400 million visitors a year. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a walk through the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. or you’re walking through one of the Japanese internment camps in Colorado or other places, or you’re walking through the place of birth of Martin Luther King in Atlanta, Georgia; you see the history of America being told by those places. So we need to work with you in partnership.

I want to make just two quick points about the challenges on the agenda ahead of us.

First, Wayne, as you assume the chairmanship of this Advisory Council, I think one of the challenges that face us as a country almost everywhere I go is the need to make sure that we are diverse in the things that we do so that we are all inclusive. That historic preservation not be seen, if you will, only as a venture and initiative that is, if you will, for those who are higher placed. It has to have a place at the table for the African American community, for the Native American community, for women and for others. I say that because, not to cast, if you will, aspersions or indictments on our past history, but there is a history which we need to recognize, and that there are histories of some people in some parts of America which simply have not been told.

I have often told my own history around the country about my family founding the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico back in 1598 and over many generations moving only about 110 miles to the north into what is now Southern Colorado in the San Luis Valley. When I walk out on the front steps of our home in the valley, my mother’s home, my father’s home, I can see the Sangre de Cristo mountains and their crimson skies in the early mornings in the San Luis Valley and know that there was a history and a legend around why that great part of the Rocky Mountains was named the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the legend of a dying priest who was involved in a battle back in the 1700’s. And you look to the West and it’s the San Juan Mountains named after St. John the Baptist, and you look to the names of the rivers, the Rio Grande, the great river, and so on and so forth.

And yet when I went to school as a young man in the San Luis Valley I was still being taught that the history of my forefathers and foremothers essentially was one that had come through Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. So it was a history which our government and our schools simply were not telling because that history was not complete.

Everybody’s history is important. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Irish-American or Dutch-American, whether you are African American or whether you’re a woman. And the greatness of this nation really is its greatness to be inclusive.

We are and have been an America in progress. As Martin Luther King used to say, the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Part of that arc requires us to be inclusive in the way we tell America’s story, and there is no better engine in how that American story is told than what we do through historic preservation.

So I look forward very much in my time as Secretary of the Interior to work with you, hand in hand, in making sure that the story that we tell is an inclusive story.

A few examples of some ways that that will happen here in the not too distant future: here on the National Mall, on October of next year, we will finally have the ceremonial opening of the Martin Luther King memorial on the Mall. And we in the National Park Service have been working very hard to establish a National Historic Landmark site that recognizes the history of Cesar Chavez and his contributions to the farm workers in California and the southwest.

I need your help. We need to work together in telling America’s story in that regard.

The second point that I want to leave you with here this morning, is the real need for us to figure out a way of funding historic preservation. For far too long, it has been an area which has played second fiddle to a lot of other things that are very important. The shoulder that should be placed behind historic preservation simply has not been as strong as it should have been.

When Stewart Udall, Bobby Kennedy, Henry Diamond and others sat in my office back in the 1960’s and conceived of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, they also knew that there was a piece of that which should be for historic preservation.

An initial thought was that as we take from the earth, the oil and gas resources that we take from our oceans and from our public lands, those revenues should in fact be going for land and water preservation and also, for historic preservation. Most times, people forget the Historic Preservation Fund aspect of that legislation, but it was supposed to be funded.

Now, some may argue about the amounts in the legislation, which has currently passed the House and is now pending in the Senate, but it would make permanent the $150 million for historic preservation. In my view, it is not adequate given the historic preservation needs we have all across America.

I am hopeful that as we move forward and we address that issue that we, Harris, Will, and others who are working on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, as we prepare a report to the President and to the Congress, that there will be a chapter on historic preservation. And that chapter on historic preservation will talk about the importance of historic preservation much the way as this Council has and as Wayne has for forty years in California during his career.

Also, in that context, the chapter will talk about the importance of job creation that comes from historic preservation. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking at Independence Hall in Pennsylvania or wherever you go, you know that the communities that thrive and are stable are those communities that have encapsulated the opportunity of heritage tourism that comes along with historic preservation.

As we move forward to completing a report that will be out in a couple of months, which will move forward to the President and to the Congress, there will be a very significant chapter on historic preservation and that you, members of the Advisory Council, will be there beating a drum to make sure that it all happens.

Thank you very much.

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