Bush moves to make Manhattan's African gravesite a national monument

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The White House on Tuesday moved toward declaring the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan a National Monument a step which could greatly boost federal care for the historic site. In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, President Bush asked the agency to determine whether the burial ground should be declared a national monument "and whether it may warrant permanent federal protection."

The burial site was uncovered in 1991 during planned building construction in lower Manhattan near City Hall and across the street from federal offices and courts.

It has been designated a National Historic Landmark, but making it a monument would place it in the care of the National Park Service, and, under one scenario offered by federal authorities, part of a local "heritage trail" with a federally run visitor center.

The site is now jointly managed by the Park Service and the General Services Administration.

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