7 unreal photos of America's 2 newest national monuments.

On his way out the door, President Barack Obama is leaving America with two brand-spanking-new national monuments.

Gold Butte, Nevada. Photo by Ron Mader/Flickr.

The areas surrounding Nevada's Gold Butte and Utah's Bears Ears Buttes, which include hundreds of thousands of acres of canyons, fragile rock formations, and ancient Native American structures, are now protected by executive order.


The designations were controversial — many local politicians opposed the measure, describing the designations as federal overreach, while others, including Native American tribes, were thrilled.

"We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and plants and as a place of sacredness," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told The New York Times.

Part of what sets the new monuments apart are hundreds of Native American petroglyphs — pictorial art and writing from centuries before the European colonization of the Americas — carved on rocks and written inside ancient structures within.

The newly christened Gold Butte National Monument is full of petroglyphs like this one.

Some of the pictograms were defaced with graffiti and bullet holes during rancher Cliven Bundy's standoff with federal authorities in 2014. The new designation will give additional protection for the ancient art and writing.

Newspaper Rock, which lies within Bears Ears National Monument, includes hundreds of petroglyphs like the one below — carved by Puebloan people over hundreds of years, beginning as early as two millennia years ago.

Modern Native American scholars believe the etchings include family symbols, territory markers, and religious iconography.

Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP.

The Moon House, also in Bears Ears and so named for the full and crescent moons on the interior walls of the structure, was likely built in the 13th century.

The structure contains numerous examples of Native American pictography inside, where archeologists believe as many as 30 people lived. The house is incredibly fragile, and only a few daily permits to see the building are currently issued.

Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP.

The house is located in McCloyd Canyon, a steep hike that gives way to this stunning view of the house under layers of rock.

Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP.

Mule Canyon, Utah, contains these Anasazi dwellings and granaries, known collectively as the "House on Fire."

Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Of course, the national monuments are also full of just-generally spectacular rock formations untouched by ancient construction, art, or writing — like this one in Gold Butte.

Jeff Sheild/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP.

Some local residents remain, understandably, concerned that monument designations will close down possibilities for recreation and development in the areas. But the importance of preserving these American Indian treasures, and the land they occupy, is impossible to overstate.

Ensuring that art, writing, and buildings are around for future generations is critical to building a United States of America that owns the full breadth of its history.

Thanks to our Native American forebears, these lands contain a key component of that story. And thanks to Obama, they now belong to all of us, together.

Unfortunately, photos can only show so much.

So ... who's up for a hike?

Heroes

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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