Pueblo group: BLM not doing enough to protect sacred lands - Albuquerque Journal

Pueblo group: BLM not doing enough to protect sacred lands

Vandalism at the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs site near Santa Fe last year. (Courtesy of Garrett VeneKlasen)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A pueblo group has alleged the federal Bureau of Land Management is mismanaging and not doing enough to protect sacred sites in the Caja del Rio Plateau area, also known as La Bajada, in the wake of a recent desecration of an ancient petroglyph site.

Defacement of petroglyphs with spray paint and scratching at La Cieneguilla recreation area, southwest of Santa Fe on BLM-managed land, was discovered this week.

“I think that what happened at the site is an example of mismanagement and the lack of surveillance and security in the area is allowing for this place to be desecrated,” said Julia Bernal, director of Pueblo Action Alliance, part of the Caja del Rio Coalition.

The BLM does its best to protect large swaths of land, BLM spokeswoman Julia Aragon said in a Friday phone interview.

“Our agency manages millions of acres and we do the best we can to manage and maintain, and this area is actually one of the most patrolled areas that we have in the Taos Field Office area,” she said. No suspects in the desecration have been identified as far as she is aware, Aragon said.

Bernal described the Caja del Rio Coalition as a group of grassroots conservation organizations “working to create stricter protections for this area because it is facing a lot of issues around vandalism.”

There have been “a lot of folks using that area as an unsurveillanced and unregulated shooting range but this area is a very significant and sacred landscape to pueblo people,” Bernal said.

The BLM “can’t control what the public does when they (BLM officials) are not present,” Aragon said.

The coalition has reached out to the BLM and the New Mexico congressional delegation seeking “opportunities for the pueblos to be more involved in how this land is being managed,” Bernal said. The BLM “needs to conduct meaningful consultation,” Bernal said.

The BLM has an “ongoing relationship with our tribal partners,” Aragon said. “I’ll share that with our leadership team that that (consultation) is being requested,” Aragon said.

“We are dedicated to preserving this area and doing our best to clean up the damage that was done,” Aragon said.

The vandalism cleanup is in the works and special products were ordered with the goal of removing the graffiti in a “delicate procedure” done with the help of professionals, while preserving the petroglyphs, she said.

Bernal said her group wants to preserve the sacred lands for pueblo youth.

“They have a birthright to enjoy what their ancestors left behind for them and acts like this really do impede on our rights as Indigenous peoples.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Pueblo group: BLM not doing enough to protect sacred lands


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Want to see a free comedy show? Big Benny ...
ABQnews Seeker
Local comedian hosting his own company ... Local comedian hosting his own company Christmas party, and everyone is invited
2
Harry Connick Jr. bringing new holiday album to ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
Harry Connick Jr.'s tour makes a ... Harry Connick Jr.'s tour makes a stop at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Kiva Auditorium.
3
Iconic musical ensemble Mannheim Steamroller making holiday tour stop ...
ABQnews Seeker
Mannheim Steamroller, which is currently on ... Mannheim Steamroller, which is currently on its Christmas tour, will make a stop on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Popejoy Hall.
4
Taylor Garrett Spirits releases whiskey finished in Pedro Ximénez ...
ABQnews Seeker
The limited batch of Taylor Garrett ... The limited batch of Taylor Garrett Sherry Cask Finish Whiskey (PX) is available at the Vara Winery & Distillery tasting room.
5
Paloma weaves a jubilant atmosphere with vibrant Mexican food
ABQnews Seeker
The next time you are seeking ... The next time you are seeking a festive spot with a vibrant vibe and dishes, head to Paloma.
6
Everything you need to know before heading to the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Over 4,000 people are set to ... Over 4,000 people are set to participate in the 2022 iteration of the Twinkle Light Parade, which begins at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, ...
7
Mariachi Christmas celebrating 23 years music and ballet folklórico
ABQnews Seeker
Mariachi Christmas at Popejoy Hall will ... Mariachi Christmas at Popejoy Hall will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9.
8
Actor Chaske Spencer examined the 1890s through the lens ...
ABQnews Seeker
'The English' follows aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady ... 'The English' follows aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), and a Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), as they come together in ...
9
30-foot sequoia replica to light up Old Town this ...
ABQnews Seeker
Old Town Shop and Stroll and ... Old Town Shop and Stroll and Tree Lighting set for Friday, Dec. 2.