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#RunningForOurLives Indigenous Youth Relay for Greater Chaco Landscape and Beyond
June 20, 2019
Photos and video available: https://www.facebook.com/FrackOffChaco/
Santa Fe, NM — Today, more than twenty indigenous youth and environmental justice allies ran nearly 50 miles from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rio Puerco Field Office in Albuquerque to the BLM state headquarters in Santa Fe.
The #RunningForOurLives run symbolizes the public’s growing outrage against expanded oil and gas development throughout the Greater Chaco Landscape and across New Mexico. The run intends to create awareness about the Climate Crisis, lead by those that will be most impacted.
“Today we unify the ties deeply rooted to our ancestors and creator. We run for the women who are stolen and murdered. For our abused mothers and children affected by the actions of man camps due to the oil and gas industry. Today we run with honor and enlightenment. Today we are tomorrow,” said runners with the Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE).
Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to lease more pristine land for fracking, impacting the most rural New Mexican communities. The June 20 BLM online oil and gas lease sale intends to sacrifice close to 40,000 acres of public and tribal land throughout the state, including more than 37,000 acres of the Greater Chaco Landscape – an area larger than Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Taking action through spiritual relay racing is a custom and long held tradition for the Tribal Nations of the Southwest. Running through Sandia, Santa Ana, San Felipe, Cochiti, and Santo Domingo Pueblos between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, runners carried the longstanding tradition of running for resistance, made famous by Po’pay’s run that initiated the Pueblo Revolt of 1690.
The Navajo Nation, Pueblos, and environmental advocates have long called for a moratorium on multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling (fracking) until the BLM completes and updates its resource management plans. Both the BLM Farmington Field Office and Rio Puerco Field Office manage lands in the Greater Chaco region, and both offices continue to approve drilling permits and leases without plans that address the impacts of horizontal fracking.
The BLM received protests for today’s sale from Counselor, Ojo Encino, and Torreon/Star Lake Chapters of the Navajo Nation as well as Acoma and Santa Clara Pueblos, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, environmental groups, and over 12,000 individual citizens. Runners helped to deliver a letter to BLM calling for landscape level cultural protections for Greater Chaco, and intend to organize another relay run during BLM’s planned September lease sale.
“In the face of a growing climate crisis and yet another BLM oil and gas lease sale in the Greater Chaco Landscape, we are literally running for our lives,” said Eileen Shendo of Jemez Pueblo. “‘Running For Our Lives” was the call the youth chose for this run as all children deserve clean and fresh water and healthy air, and our world is under threat. If we don’t include the voices of women and children as we work to balance economic development with our traditional values, we will neglect the key elements of who we are as one people. We run because now is the time for action.”