Medicine Wheel landmark gets new boundary

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week announced the designation of 14 new national historic landmarks in 11 states and the District of Columbia that have played an integral role in the development of the country.

“Each of these landmarks represents a chapter in the story of America, from archeological sites dating back more than two millennia to historic train depots, homes of famous artists, and buildings designed by some of our greatest architects,” said Secretary Salazar. “By designating these sites as national landmarks, we help meet the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to establish a conservation ethic for the 21st century and reconnect people, especially young people, to our nation’s historic, cultural, and natural heritage.”

“These new listings will join approximately 2,500 other sites in the National Historic Landmark Program,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These places showcase our rich and complex history – from prehistoric time right up to the modern era.”

The nearest landmarks are:

•Four national homes for disabled volunteer soldiers — Western Branch in Leavenworth, Kan.; Mountain Branch in Johnson City, Tenn.; Battle Mountain Branch in Hot Springs, S.D.; and Northwestern Branch in Milwaukee, Wisc. — which reflect the development of a national system of veteran health care in the United States.

•The Mountain Meadows Massacre Site in Washington County, Utah, which marks the location of the Sept. 11, 1857, massacre of 120 emigrants by militiamen associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The event was the apex of decades of violence, mistrust, and fear.

Salazar also announced a name and boundary change for Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark near Lovell, which was designated in 1970. Renamed Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark, the site now includes almost 4,000 additional acres of significant and intact Native American sacred areas.

Big Horn County Commissioner Keith Grant said Salazar’s announcement is in line with the agreement of the Medicine Wheel Historic Preservation Plan consulting parties. He said the parties agreed with the 4,000-acre boundary on the condition that management remain as is.

He said the Native American representatives wanted the landmark’s name to be changed just to Medicine Mountain and the rest agreed on the split name.

Earlier this year, Big Horn County had notified the other consulting parties that they would pull out their support of the boundary and name change if management was changed and the road to the Medicine Wheel closed.

The HPP states that management will not change and the road will remain open to the public unless all consulting parties agree to a change.

He said a celebration for the expanded boundary is planned for next month.

The program, established in 1935, is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. The agency works with preservation officials and other partners interested in nominating a landmark. Completed applications are reviewed by the National Park System Advisory Board, which makes recommendations for designation to the Secretary of the Interior. If selected, property ownership remains intact but each site receives a designation letter, a plaque, and technical preservation advice.

Additional information on the designations can be found at www.nps.gov/nhl.

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