We traveled 2,000 miles to save Chaco Canyon

Pueblo historic sites face oil and gas development on unprotected public lands.

 

This past week, we spent time away from our families, jobs and communities to meet with decision-makers in Washington, D.C. regarding a place of sacred importance to many tribal nations: the greater Chaco landscape of northwest New Mexico. We journeyed over 2,000 miles because pieces of our history, culture and future are being threatened by intensive fossil fuel energy development that is spreading across our ancient homelands.

The greater Chaco landscape is one of the richest cultural landscapes in the United States. It is the ancestral home of our Pueblo people. The Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Bears Ears regions of the Four Corners are what we call the “footprints of our ancestors” as we trace our ancient migration. They record the long-living history of Pueblo people in the southwest United States.

Chaco Canyon has been home to the Pueblo people for thousands of years.

Currently, only a small area of our ancestral homeland is protected as the Chaco Canyon National and Historic Park. Most of the publicly-managed lands in the region are unprotected and exposed to industrial development. Sadly, more than 90 percent of public land in the area is already leased for oil and gas drilling. The remaining land — home to thousands of artifacts, ancient houses and roads — is at risk of being damaged by new drill pads, pipelines and a web of industrial access roads.

We, the direct descendants of the ancestral Chacoan people hold various leadership roles in our respective communities and represent thousands of Pueblo people. The integrity and health of our land is of paramount importance to us. During our Washington trip, we shared our stories with the current administration and Congress. And we have called on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the entire federal government to protect what little remains of this landscape. 

Our trip follows  over the past two years between the Navajo Nation and Pueblo governors in New Mexico. Tribes throughout the southwest recognized that the threat to this sacred and important landscape was so great that we joined together in our efforts to save our sacred sites.

Our trip also comes as the Bureau of Land Management prepares to release a plan that could alter our cultural landscape forever. The BLM and Bureau of Indian Affairs are revising a land-use plan for the region that will decide whether the core area around the park, defined roughly by a 10-mile radius, will be open to drilling. New technologies in accessing oil and gas reserves have led to increased development interest in the greater Chaco landscape. It is imperative that the current administration and members of Congress understand what is at stake should the United States government continue to develop in the region.

Thankfully, legislation has been introduced that would safeguard some of the lands within the core area outside of the park. The bill, the, is supported by the All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Navajo Nation.

Whether it is through the BLM and BIA management plan, the proposed federal legislation, or both, we want decision makers in D.C. to know that just as the United States takes great care to preserve churches, we would hope they would do the same for our sacred places. Chaco Canyon is, and always will be, a part of who we are. It is where our ancestors lived and where they continue to reside and it should be preserved for future generations.

From left, Former Pueblo of Tesuque Governor Mark Mitchell, All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) Chairman Edward Paul Torres, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, APCG Vice-Chairman and Pueblo of Santa Clara Governor J. Michael Chavarria, and Pueblo of Acoma Governor Kurt Riley are pictured at a meeting with the New Mexico senator.
Courtesy photo

Submitted by the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) Chairman Edward Paul Torres, APCG Vice-Chairman and Pueblo of Santa Clara Governor J. Michael Chavarria, Pueblo of Acoma Governor Kurt Riley, and former Pueblo of Tesuque Governor Mark Mitchell who share the responsibility of Co-Chairs for the APCG Natural Resources Committee.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is hiring a full-time Restoration Program Coordinator based in Escalante, Utah. gsenm.org
  • Work passionately on behalf of the finest hiking and equestrian trail in the Western United States. Work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association! The Pacific...
  • 7.58 Acres in Delta County for $198,000. and a contiguous 25 acre parcel of land zoned agricultural is available in Montrose county for an additional...
  • in Moab, UT start in Spring. Naturalist, River Guides, Camp Cooks, Internships available. Details at cfimoab.org/employment.
  • Work passionately on behalf of the Pacific Crest Trail Association! Headquartered in Sacramento, California, PCTA is dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest...
  • The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) seeks an energetic and motivated Stewardship Coordinator to manage on-going conservation easement stewardship and to work within our...
  • Program Manager, Tongass Forest Program Position Description The Southeast Alaska Conservation Councils Tongass Forest Program Manager coordinates all of the forest and land-use-related campaign work...
  • Friends of the San Juans is looking for an experienced attorney. Details at: http://sanjuans.org/2018/09/26/staff-attorney-fall-2018/
  • 25 acre in native grasses. Cedar draw. Year-round spring. At foot of Moscow Mnt, ID, 7 miles from town.
  • Custom-built pumice home, endless views, 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Taos Real Estate, 575-758-1924, https://hcne.ws/highdeserthaven
  • 5,000 square foot sustainable home on 30 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services...
  • 541-987-2363, [email protected] www.dukewarnerrealtyofeasternoregon.com
  • Reporting to the Board of Directors (Board), the Executive Director (ED) has overall operational responsibility for FoGB staff, programs, expansion, and execution of the mission....
  • Join the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding for a workshop to build your capacity to transform conflicts and create lasting solutions for people and wildlife. April...
  • Nov 7-8 in Grand Junction, CO Keynote: Brad Udall on Climate Change Other Topics: Threats to Food Energy Water Security From Forecasting to Decision-Making Science...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • Skiing, biking, hiking, fishing, 3 bd/2 bth, deck. 1.38 acres, no covenants. Call Reggie Masters, Associate Broker Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, 970-596-3568.
  • Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...