Bills That Would Create A Women’s Suffrage Monument And Expand The Yucca House Site Just Passed The House

Courtesy Jane DeDecker
A studio version of Jane DeDecker’s work “Every Word We Utter.”

Two bills with Colorado ties are one step closer to becoming law after votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

One would create a women’s suffrage monument in the nation’s capital, and the other would expand the Yucca House National Monument south of Cortez.

The Every Word We Utter monument was designed by Loveland artist Jane DeDecker. The bill, introduced in the House by Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, is supported by the entire Colorado Congressional delegation.

Neguse was proud of the bill’s passage. He said it took 14 months of work to get the bill onto the House floor. The full support of the delegation was an important factor in terms of getting passed, Neguse added.

Another motivation for the representative was his young daughter.

“She will be able to come to Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, and be able to see this monument to honor the suffrage movement,” Neguse said.

He thinks Coloradans can be proud of the outsized role Loveland and the state played in creating the national monument.

Jody Shadduck-McNally, president and co-founder of the Every Word We Utter Monument board, sat in the House Gallery with a 19th Amendment ratification flag on her lap as the bill was passed. She is friends with DeDecker and helped get the idea of monument one step closer to reality.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” Shadduck-McNally said.

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Jody Shadduck-McNally, president of the Every Word We Utter Monument board, holds up the women's suffrage flag outside of Rep. Joe Neguse's Capitol office on Feb. 26, 2020, the day the House voted to approve the monument.

Just as Shadduck-McNally surprised the Every Word We Utter Monument board with the news this past weekend that the legislation would finally be voted on, her husband surprised her with a ticket to D.C. so she could witness the vote in person.

She noted there is a huge lack of public art depicting women’s history in the country.

“When you look across the country, [people] see a womanless history. We don’t have enough out there to show our young women and men that women had a very huge part in creating this country," Shadduck-McNally said.

The monument design features several generations of women who fought for suffrage, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells.

Shadduck-McNally thanked Neguse and the entire delegation for pushing to get the bill through the chamber. She is equally optimistic that it will pass the Senate prior to the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August.

The Yucca House bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Scott Tipton. It enables the National Park Service to accept a land donation of 160 acres for the monument, expanding it from 33 acres to 193. The bill would not only help preserve one of the most significant archaeological sites in southwest Colorado, but also improve access.

While the ruins at Yucca House are mostly unexcavated, the site, which is located in a valley west of Mesa Verde, was an important community center for ancient Puebloans from around 1150 - 1300 AD, according to the National Park Service.

Tipton took to the House floor and said the site “is one of the most significant archeological sites in the country and stands as a reminder, a reminder of how the ancient Puebloans used to live hundreds of years ago.” He added the bill’s passage will ensure that future generations can continue to experience the site.

While the monument and its new addition are relatively small in size, the expansion could have an impact on larger public lands debates in southwestern Colorado.

Tipton said Montezuma County supports the donation, waiving a “no net loss” of private land policy, but has asked that Tipton to work to release five wilderness study areas within Montezuma and Delores counties. Three of them are targeted for greater protection in Rep. Diana DeGette’s Colorado Wilderness Act, which passed out of the House earlier this month.

Both the Yucca House bill and the Suffrage Monument bill are sponsored in the Senate by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. While the House members are optimistic both measures will get through the Senate, there is a backlog of bills that the House has passed but the Senate has not taken up. The bipartisan support from the delegation, however, does improve their chances.