HomeTravelPueblo leaders travel to Washington DC to defend the Chaco buffer zone

Pueblo leaders travel to Washington DC to defend the Chaco buffer zone

Pueblo leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with federal officials in an effort to prevent the federal government from overturning a buffer zone that prevents new oil and gas, or uranium, leases within a 10-mile radius of the Historic Park. National Chaco Culture.

Following the announcement of a 20-year moratorium on mineral leasing on federal lands near the Chaco, Republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a bill that would essentially end that moratorium.

The Governor of the Town of Acoma, Randall Vicente, said that it is “difficult to accept that someone comes simply for the purpose of getting money to try to take it away and put an end to it.”

He asked how long the energy resources will last.

“It’s going to run out and it’s going to go away,” he said. “One of these days there will be nothing. And then what are you going to stand on?

Pueblo leaders say the buffer zone is important to protect their ancestral lands.

“I think it’s been quite positive in terms of the reception and giving us their time and attention to explain our main concerns about why we are here. And our connection to Chaco Canyon,” said Zuni Pueblo Governor Arden Kucate. New Mexico Political Report about visiting DC

Kucate said there is a lot of inaccurate information circulating about mineral extraction.

Vicente said the reason Pueblo leaders traveled to DC was to meet with federal agencies and offices and dispel misinformation circulating about mineral extraction. He said that the people, as well as other tribes, consider Chaco as part of their history of emergence and as part of their daily prayers.

Despite this, Vicente said that the Pueblos have been asked to prove that they are part of the Chaco.

“Well, we’ve always had it in our emergency stories,” he said. “We’ve always had it in our origin stories, that Chaco was one of the places we stopped before going to our final and current homes.”

He said Pueblo ceremonies name places like Chaco where the Pueblo people lived.

But now, Vicente said, people are asking the Pueblos to prove their ancestral ties to the Chaco.

Kucate is a traditional practitioner and religious leader, as well as governor of the Zuni Pueblo. For him, Chaco is a special place.

“It has been within us as part of our indigenous upbringing, as an umbilical cord to our emergence and our migratory history,” he said.

He said it is important to protect the lands for generations to come.

“These places are considered natural wonders to the people of this country, but they are still our sacred lands that we are still deeply connected to through our rituals or ceremonies and whatever,” he said.

The Chaco Culture National Historical Park is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors from around the world.

Other world heritage sites include Notre-Dame Cathedral in France, Vatican City and the Statue of Liberty.

Ancestral Puebloan influence can be seen far beyond the boundaries of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Kucate noted that the Pueblo people have ancestral ties to sites throughout the Four Corners region and that the Pueblo people still have spiritual ties to those sites.

Vicente listed some of those places, including Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah and Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado.

He said other areas where Pueblos have ancestral ties are also affected by the threat of extractive industries, including uranium, oil and gas.

“You never give back what you take,” Vicente said.

He said extracting oil or gas from underground can damage structures at sites like the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Although the Pueblos no longer occupy those buildings, Vicente said they continue to pray for them so that they do not fall.

“That is in our words and our prayers,” he said. “We continue to pray for it because we still make our pilgrimages, we pay tribute to those places that we consider our homeland.”

The moratorium has divided indigenous communities. Navajo assignees who live near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park are among the buffer zone’s staunchest opponents.

The moratorium will have little impact on the region because for years there have been no new federal oil and gas leases within ten miles of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. But it could affect future leases that may occur.

While the moratorium does not apply to their allotment lands, allottees say the checkerboard nature of land ownership makes it difficult for them to lease their mineral rights if federal lands are withdrawn from the lease.

The Navajo Nation, which previously lobbied for the buffer zone alongside the Pueblos, has since changed its position to officially oppose the moratorium on new leases. The tribe under its current presidential administration has expressed concerns about the economic impacts to beneficiaries.

In remote northwestern New Mexico, there are few opportunities for economic growth outside of energy development.

Both Kucate and Vicente expressed disappointment in that change from the Navajo Nation.

Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez continues to support the buffer zone and sent a letter to President Joe Biden in support of the buffer zone.

In the letter, Nez said he “vehemently opposes” federal legislation that attempts to end the moratorium on new leases near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. He said the mineral leasing withdrawal came as a result of “decades of efforts by tribes, elected officials and the public to better protect sacred and historic sites.”

Vicente said Nez is not the only former president of the Navajo Nation who advocated with the Pueblo for the buffer zone. He said former President Russell Begaye and Nez were “strong leaders who understood the protection of our cultural resources, which include Chaco Canyon,” as well as other sites in the Southwest.

Pueblo leaders say they want to collaborate with the Navajo Nation and are hopeful the Nation will once again join them in support of the buffer zone. The Pueblos and the Navajo Nation have worked together successfully in the past to protect other shared cultural places, such as Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

Vicente said the visit to DC is just the beginning of efforts to correct misinformation.

“We are here to make sure our voices are heard and we rely on legislation to see what natural resources can be ruined and altered due to oil, gas and uranium extraction in some areas,” he said.

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