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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Mountain West "War Trophy" May Head Back To Philippines

U.S. Air Force

Historic church bells seized in the Philippine-American War and brought back to the Mountain West may soon head back home. But Wyoming's delegation is not happy with the possible move across the ocean.

During a State of the Nation Address last year, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte called on the U.S.

"Give us back those Balangiga bells," he said.

The bells were seized in 1901 during the Philippine-U.S. conflict. American troops brought the bells back with them to their new post in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The bells have been there ever since.

Now, Secretary James Mattis has notified Congress the Defense Department intends to return the bells. University of Wyoming History Professor Emeritus Phil Roberts said it’s overdue.  

"As a war trophy without any more significance, I don’t think it's at all becoming for us to display them in the way that they're being displayed," he said.

But Wyoming's delegation is adamantly opposed to the move. In a joint statement from Wyoming's U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, said it, "sets a dangerous precedent for future veterans' memorials."

The American Legion and Wyoming Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars are also against the move.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.