For all the wild beauty of Chaco Canyon’s high-desert landscape, the harsh conditions make it an unlikely place for a culture to flourish. And yet, people have lived on this land for centuries, thriving generation after generation. The center of this landscape is now known as Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a concentration of the most exceptional Ancestral Puebloan sites in the United States, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These unique and sacred lands are also home to some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the U.S. Recently, the Trump administration moved to severely limit local communities’ say in whether oil and gas development should occur near national parks and other landscapes, including the elimination of collaborative planning designed to protect public lands and sacred places while allowing energy production to continue in a balanced and sustainable way.
The administration’s recent action and increasing development threats leave the future of the park – and sacred tribal lands and communities across the Greater Chaco landscape – at a crossroads.