The American Southwest - emphasized here with parts of California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico - is made of an arid and rugged landscape. Its deserts contain stories spanning millions of years, of how the wind has moulded the sandstone, and how the earth has adapted to the mineral-rich environment. The landscape holds historical significance in anthropology, geology, and Native American spirituality. Ancient homes, carvings, and other remains from the Ancestral Puebloan people remain intact within the sides of canyon walls from as early as 900 AD. Sections of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico make up the Navajo Nation, the largest area of land in the US still protected and governed by indigenous people.
Shortly after these images were taken in 2017, the US government announced an area reduction for some of the national land monuments in the southwest, which were established by the preceding US government 11 months prior. These monuments were originally declared as protected lands for their archaeological and cultural significance, and included some of the areas seen in the following images. The new monument boundaries reduced the protected areas by 85 per cent, from a total of 1.35 million to 228,000 acres of land. This lack of protection has meant decreased management, placing the ancient artifacts, cliff dwellings, and natural structures at risk of damage through vandalism and recurrent grave robberies for reselling of artifacts. It also has opened opportunities for commercial natural resource extractions to take place on land that is considered sacred to its population.
As of early 2020, there have been no changes to these reduced boundaries and the US government has continued to assess using the land's natural resources towards the economy.