Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke addresses a meeting of the Conference of Western Attorneys General at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, on July 24, 2018. "Great to join the Western Attorneys General this morning in Albuquerque. Good talk on National Park Restoration Act and @Interior reorganization," a post on Twitter read. Photo: Secretary Zinke

Trump administration plans drilling on ancestral tribal territory

The Trump administration is planning to allow oil and gas drilling on ancestral territory in New Mexico despite pledges to seek additional views from tribes.

The lease sale includes federal land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in the northwestern part of the state. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had previously said he was going to seek more study before moving forward.

“Expanded fracking in Greater Chaco further threatens irreplaceable cultural resources, as well as the health and safety of nearby communities," Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Organizer Miya King-Flaherty said in a press release on Tuesday. "It is unacceptable for Secretary Zinke to pay lip service to the need for cultural review and consultation while still charging ahead with plans to auction off this sacred landscape to the fossil-fuel industry,”

The All Pueblo Council of Governors, which represents the 20 Pueblo tribes in New Mexico and Texas, and the Navajo Nation are among the opponents of development near Chaco. They have called for a moratorium on development in order to protect an area where their ancestors built communities, held ceremonies and laid their loved ones to rest.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act

"For our people these sacred places are an essential connection to our past, to our culture as Pueblo people and to our ancestors that still reside in this place," Governor Val Panteah of the Pueblo of Zuni said last month during a conference call to discuss the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act.

The bill, introduced as S.2907, has not yet been granted a hearing in the 115th Congress.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the lease sale affecting Chaco would take place during the week of December 3. The comment period on a scoping report is due to close on Friday but has been extended, the BLM said on its website.

The proposed sale also includes unrelated federal lands elsewhere in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Zinke was in New Mexico on Tuesday, where he addressed the Conference of Western Attorneys General. The event took place at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, owned by the Pueblo of Santa Ana.

Read More on the Story:
Feds plan to allow drilling around Chaco site (The Santa Fe New Mexican July 25, 2018)

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