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Pueblo Pintado
Pueblo Pintado is part of the greater Chaco Culture National Historical Park landscape in northwestern New Mexico. Photo: John Fowler
Center for Western Priorities welcomes protections for sacred are in New Mexico
Monday, November 15, 2021

The Center for Western Priorities is praising President Joe Biden and his administration for seeking to protect sacred tribal areas in New Mexico from development.

According to a fact sheet released in conjunction with the White House Tribal Nations Summit, the Department of the Interior, under the leadership of Secretary Deb Haaland, will engage in tribal consultation for a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Development would be prohibited in the area, held sacred by Pueblo tribes and the Navajo Nation, for 20 years.

“Thank you, President Biden and Secretary Haaland,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities. “Today’s action reduces the imminent threat that oil and gas drilling poses to Chaco Canyon. Equally important are the listening sessions and nation-to-nation consultations that the Interior Department will hold with Indigenous Americans and Tribal nations across the region.”

“When President Biden and Secretary Haaland launched the America the Beautiful initiative earlier this year, we noted that it would take many tools to protect 30 percent of America’s land and waters by the end of the decade,” Rokala said. “Long-term mineral withdrawals like this are an important pathway for addressing the intertwined climate and biodiversity crises. We look forward to seeing what comes next.”

The “Greater Chaco Landscape Mineral Withdrawal” is one of many initiatives being advanced by the Biden administration as it hosts the White House Tribal Nations Summit virtually this week. The summit begins at 11am Eastern on Monday and continues on Tuesday.

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