Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
From Standing Rock to Chaco Canyon: Indigenous Youth Organizers lead 80-mile Awareness Run
Lauren Howland, firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-210-1672
Kendra Pinto, email@example.com, 505-686-1881
Videos uploaded on www.frackoffchaco.org
FARMINGTON, NM—In lieu of the Bureau of Land Management approving more than 400 new fracking wells without adequate Tribal consultation, the International Indigenous Youth Council and native youth in the Four Corners area organized an 80-mile run to help bring attention to fracking in the Greater Chaco area.
“This cultural landscape is significant for both Diné and Puebloan cultures, but Native peoples everywhere want an end to the cancers and diseases brought by living on the front lines of extractive industries.” said Lauren “Two Braids” Howland, a Navajo Allotment Land Owner and organizer of the Awareness Run who was one of the founders of the International Indigenous youth Council which started in Standing Rock in 2016.
Over 91% of public land in Northwest New Mexico is already leased to oil and gas interests with new industrialized fracking development encroaching closer to Chaco Canyon National Historic Cultural Park. New development has transformed and degraded the landscape, fueling more air pollution, more safety concerns, more truck traffic, and more industrial development where there previously was none.
“As Native American youth we realize our obligation to protect all life,” added Howland who’s other affiliated Tribes are with San Carlos and Jicarilla-Apache Nations as well as Laguna Pueblo. “We ran for Standing Rock; now we run for not only for native lives and these sacred Chaco cultural sites, we run for the lives of all people who call the Four Corners “home.”
In 1987 the Chaco Culture site, which contains Chaco Canyon, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an outstanding example of world cultural patrimony. These ancestral and ceremonial sites still serve a purpose to surrounding Pueblos and Tribes, but most lands remain unprotected as fracking continues inside the boundaries of the World Heritage Site.
“Once the most important cultural center of the Southwest is now home to the nation’s largest methane cloud,” said Alex Howland of Dulce New Mexico who is Lauren Howland’s younger brother and ran from Cannon Ball, ND to Eagle Butte, SD to bring awareness to #NODAPL which became the largest Indigenous resistance effort in recent history. “Smog on the horizon was ever present running as we passed oil and gas pads. Water protectors everywhere should stand up to stop the sacrifice of indigenous front line communities.”
More than a dozen youth participated in the relay run, which began at the Chaco Canyon Visitors Center on Saturday, June 24 and ended today at the Bureau of Land Management offices in Farmington where over 50 community members rallied as runners delivered a letter demanding increased protections for Greater Chaco and adequate Tribal consultation to include Pueblo voices.
“For far too long the voices of community members have been ignored by our leaders,” said Kendra Pinto, Diné, of Twin Pines, NM, who ran with her 10-year-old younger sister as part of the Awareness Run. “Brothers and sisters from Tribes across the region have put our bodies on the line to elevate our call for protections from fracking.”
The Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs are currently amending the 2003 Resource Management Plan to finally account for horizontal drilling and hydraulically fracturing the Mancos Shale in Greater Chaco.
In their recent “Scoping Report,” the Bureau of Land Management promised to include social, economic, and environmental justice analyses in the forthcoming management plan amendment.
Earlier this year, the Navajo Nation and All Pueblo Council of Governors’ called for a moratorium on fracking-related activities in the Greater Chaco region on the heels of demands from 15 Navajo Nation Chapters resolutions and dozens of letters from over one hundred organizations.
Today, runners delivered another letter signed by organizations representing 774,062 members demanding the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs follow through on their promise to bring justice to the region.
“Today is yet another example of the public outcry and demand for greater protections for Greater Chaco,” said Rebecca Sobel of WildEarth Guardians. “It’s about time decision makers put the Greater Chaco region ahead of the demands of the fracking industry. New Mexico Congressional Senators and Representatives have demonstrated support for the Standing Rock Sioux fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, but similar demonstrations have yet to be seen for New Mexican Tribes fighting fracking in Greater Chaco.”