Environmentalists are calling on President Joe Biden to take permanent and recent action to protect Chaco Culture National Historic Park from further destruction by the mining industry.
Last month, the administration took temporary measures to halt oil and gas drilling in a surrounding 10 mile area.
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, over the past decades 90% of federal land surrounding the park has been opened for drilling.
Max Trujillo, senior New Mexico field coordinator for the Hispanics Enjoying Camping Hunting and the Outdoors group, said the Chaco was once the center of Native American cultural activities.
“There is so much history in this region, as indigenous people we often say that ‘all roads lead to Chaco’ because it was true,” said Trujillo. “It was the hub of indigenous peoples in all of these regions. “
In addition to the 37,000 oil and gas wells drilled in the Chaco region, 15,000 miles of road have been constructed. The federal government has proposed a 20-year withdrawal from federal lands to prevent any further leasing of oil and gas within ten miles of Chaco Park.
Trujillo wants development throughout Northwestern New Mexico to be better managed to deal with significant impacts on the health and well-being of tribal communities.
“Activism developed to protect the community, and we have seen Native American Indian activism become such a resilient force, not only in the community but across the country and around the world,” said Trujillo. “There is so much history in this area.”
Indigenous peoples once visited the Chaco as a center of ceremony, commerce, and political administration. Now, Trujillo added, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is marked by oil wells, fracking torches and methane emissions.
“I hope we will one day live in a world where that wouldn’t be a question, and it wouldn’t be a difficult conversation,” Trujillo remarked. “It would be: ‘Yes, it’s a historic site that needs protection.’ “
The proposed federal withdrawal will not apply to individual Indian attributions or to area minerals owned by private, state and tribal entities.
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