(Albuquerque, N.M.) – Today, the Department of the Interior issued a historic decision to administratively withdraw public lands from mineral development in Chaco Canyon. This landmark announcement marks a turning point in the protection of the Greater Chaco Region and sets a new precedent in the federal government’s management of sacred landscapes.
The Department is administratively withdrawing public lands from new mineral development in an especially critical 10-mile area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park and including its outliers for a 20-year term. This is an effort prompted by unfettered mineral leasing in the region for decades.
The All Pueblo Council of Governors expresses our utmost gratitude for this momentous decision. Secretary Haaland and her leadership and staff within the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted a thorough and careful analysis before completing this withdrawal, listening to and elevating tribal voices throughout the process. Their work will leave an invaluable mark on this sacred landscape.
We, our individual Pueblo members, other Indian Tribes, and other stakeholders have for many years called on the Department and Congress to take steps to protect the sacred landscape in the Greater Chaco Region. These stakeholders have worked closely to design and advocate for protections for the most critical areas within the Greater Chaco Region that also preserve development rights for Indian Tribes and tribal allottees. The administrative withdrawal is one important piece of our collaborative and shared advocacy efforts.
The Department’s withdrawal demonstrates land stewardship informed by tribal consultation and traditional ecological knowledge so that sacred landscapes are protected and our languages, cultures, and traditions may continue.
“Today’s approval of the administrative withdrawal is a resounding triumph for our communities, our sacred lands, and future generations. This decision demonstrates the power of unity and collaboration in the pursuit of preserving our cultural heritage.” – Mark Mitchell, Chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors and Former Governor of Tesuque Pueblo
“Secretary Haaland’s announcement marks a significant milestone in honoring the legacy of our ancestors and the Greater Chaco Region’s rich cultural history. This administrative withdrawal will help ensure the preservation and appreciation of our treasured lands for generations to come.” – Governor Randall Vicente, Acoma Pueblo
“The historic decision by Secretary Haaland to exercise her existing authority to administratively withdraw these public lands from mineral development is a testament to the recognized importance of the Greater Chaco Region and our unwavering commitment to protecting it. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Department of the Interior and Congress to ensure the sacred landscape’s cultural and environmental integrity remains intact.” – Governor J. Michael Chavarria, Santa Clara Pueblo
“This timely and formal action by Secretary Haaland ushers a precedent setting action by the federal government to protect Indigenous histories, expertise, and current connections to sacred landscapes. It would not have been possible without the hard work, advocacy, dedication, and compromise of the Tribes and stakeholders. This formal action enables and empowers Tribes to preserve their past and current connections in a new era of land stewardship for today and for future generations.” – Governor Wilfred Herrera Jr., Laguna Pueblo
Please contact: Teran Villa, All Pueblo Council of Governors Executive Director at [email protected] for further information.