FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2023
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) on Sunday celebrated the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) 10-mile withdrawal of federal lands from future mineral development in Chaco Canyon and wishes to address the unfortunate events that unfolded at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Unfortunately, the celebratory event was marred by protests, which ultimately led to the relocation of the gathering away from the sacred landscape in Chaco.
Sunday was meant to be a day of celebration, acknowledgement, and reflection. Regrettably, protestors impeded entrance to the Park, disrupting the opportunity for Secretary Deb Haaland, other federal officials, Pueblo officials, and other persons to enter the Park. Consequently, planned remarks by officials, including Pueblo Governors, were not able to be delivered as originally intended.
Claims made by protesters and others regarding the origins and effects of the withdrawal are not true. The Navajo Nation helped design and advocate for the 10-mile withdrawal at the request of its people, and the withdrawal protects Navajo and allottee development rights. The withdrawal does not take anything away from allottees, and instead it makes more permanent the current status quo. Pueblo leadership alongside APCG originally sat down with Navajo leaders to design and advocate for the 10-mile withdrawal together, and the Pueblos have stood by their word and never asked for more than was agreed upon government-to-government. APCG and Pueblo leadership met with Navajo leaders last month in a respectful effort to correct any misunderstandings, but it appears certain misconceptions persist, as protesters continue to maintain false beliefs.
APCG’s resolve remains firm and undeterred. We want to express our strong and unwavering support for Secretary Haaland, her leadership, and her staff. Secretary Haaland’s leadership has been instrumental in the protection and preservation of our shared sacred lands in Chaco. We stand in full support of the administrative withdrawal, a decision that was meticulously crafted, taking into consideration the views of and effects on the Pueblos, other tribes, the State of New Mexico, and surrounding communities – including the Navajo Nation. This decision is significant in safeguarding our precious and sacred landscape surrounding the Park.
While APCG acknowledges the right to peaceful protest, APCG strongly condemns the disruptive and unsafe atmosphere generated by the protests.
APCG will continue to advocate for the protection of our sacred sites, our traditions, and our culture. Yesterday’s events, while disappointing, do not diminish the importance of the cause we stand for or the progress we have made.
APCG will always promote dialogue, cooperation, and respect as we move forward to protect and preserve the invaluable cultural and historical heritage that defines us. We are hopeful that, in the future, the expression of different viewpoints can be managed in a peaceful manner that respects all parties involved.