T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

PROCLAMATION: Establishment of the Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Help Site Map Text Only

                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            January 17, 2001


                              -  - - - - - -


                              A PROCLAMATION

     Pompeys Pillar National Monument is a massive sandstone outcrop that
rises from an almost two-acre base on the banks of the Yellowstone River
150 feet toward Montana?s Big Sky, east of Billings.  The monument?s
premier location at a natural ford in the Yellowstone River, and its
geologic distinction as the only major sandstone formation in the area,
have made Pompeys Pillar a celebrated landmark and outstanding observation
point for more than eleven thousand years of human occupation.  Hundreds of
markings, petroglyphs, and inscriptions left by visitors have transformed
this geologic phenomenon into a living journal of the American West.

     The monument?s most notable visitor, Captain William Clark of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition, arrived at Pompeys Pillar on July 25, 1806, on
his return trip from the Pacific coast.  Clark?s journal recorded his stop
at this "remarkable rock" with its "extensive view in every direction."  He
described an idyllic landscape of grassy plains, snow-capped mountains, and
cliffs abutting the wandering river.  Clark marked his presence by
engraving his name and the date of his visit on the outcrop.  This simple
inscription is the only remaining physical evidence of Lewis and Clark?s
epic journey.  In his journal, Clark named the rock Pompy?s Tower, Pompy
being Clark?s nickname for Sacagawea?s young son, Jean Baptiste
Charbonneau, who was born at the expedition?s winter camp at Fort Mandan on
February 11, 1805.  The name was changed to Pompeys Pillar by author
Nicholas Biddle when his account of the Expedition was published in 1814.

     Ethnographic and archaeological evidence indicates that the Pillar was
a place of ritual and religious activity.  Hundreds of petroglyphs on the
face of the rock, noted by Clark
in his journal, reflect the importance of the monument to early peoples.
The Crow people, the dominant residents of the region
when Clark passed through, call the pillar the "Mountain Lions Lodge" in
their language, and it figures prominently in Crow oral history.  Pompeys
Pillar also includes the markings and signature of a host of characters
from the pioneer past, including fur trappers, Yellowstone River steamboat
men, frontier army troops, railroad workers, missionaries, and early
settlers.  In 1873, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his men
camped at its base, where they came under attack from Sioux snipers.

     Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431),
authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and
other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the
lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be
national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the
limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be

     WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to reserve
such lands as a national monument to be known as the Pompeys Pillar
National Monument:

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States
of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June
8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby
set apart and reserved as the Pompeys Pillar National Monument, for the
purpose of protecting the objects identified above, all lands and interests
in lands owned or controlled by the United States within the boundaries of
the area described on the map entitled "Pompeys Pillar National Monument"
attached to and forming a part of this proclamation.  The Federal land and
interests in land reserved
 consist of approximately 51 acres, which is the smallest area compatible
with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

     All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this
monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry,
location, selection, sale, or leasing or other disposition under the public
land laws, including but not limited to withdrawal from location, entry,
and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws
relating to mineral and geothermal leasing.

     Lands and interests in lands within the proposed monument not owned by
the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon
acquisition of title thereto by the United States.

     The Secretary of the Interior shall manage the monument through the
Bureau of Land Management, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to
implement the purposes of this proclamation.

     The establishment of this monument is subject to any valid existing
rights, including the mineral estate held by the United States in trust for
the Crow Tribe.

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish
the jurisdiction of the State of Montana with respect to fish and wildlife

     This proclamation does not reserve water as a matter of Federal law.
Nothing in this reservation shall be construed as a relinquishment or
reduction of any water use or rights reserved or appropriated by the United
States on or before the date of this proclamation.  The Secretary shall
work with appropriate State authorities to ensure that any water resources
needed for monument purposes are available.

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing
withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however,
the national monument shall be the dominant reservation.  Warning is hereby
given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or
remove any feature of this monument and not to locate or settle upon any of
the lands thereof.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
seventeenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and
of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

                                   # # #

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement