Last month, the Navajo Nation and the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) came together for a historic summit to declare our shared commitment to the Greater Chaco Landscape and to call on our congressional leaders and the Department of the Interior to conserve these sacred lands for future generations. We were joined by many other elected leaders from New Mexico who stand with us in this critical endeavor.
The Greater Chaco Landscape is a truly significant resource that brings together the Pueblos of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. Including this summit, the Navajo Nation and APCG have only met three times, with each meeting focusing on the importance of protecting the abundance of cultural and historical resources.
New Mexicans and people from all around the world visit the region in large numbers every year to view historical sites and gaze at the breathtaking starry skies that hover above these lands at night. It captures the imagination like no other place on Earth.
Navajo and Pueblo leaders, along with members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, our governor and our state land commissioner have repeatedly sent a strong and unified message to the Department of the Interior and the BLM: Protect public lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Whether the agency chooses to respect our tribal and state leaders’ request will be seen as the BLM readies the release of a draft management plan amendment for the area. In recent months, the agency suggested it would ignore this unprecedented level of support for land conservation by allowing lands within a roughly 10-mile buffer of the park to be developed for oil and gas. More than 90 percent of our public lands in the region are already leased for energy development, and the few remaining unleased areas near the park form a near pristine landscape of cultural objects and sacred sites.