Native tribes want cultural sites protected

A panel discussion Saturday at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center on the impacts of oil-and-gas to the land featured perspectives of prominent members of the Santa Ana and Acoma pueblos.

Acoma Gov. Fred Vallo Sr. and Santa Ana official Timothy Menchego expressed concern about the destruction of sacred sites in the Four Corners area because of industrial development.

Both areas are under consideration for special master lease plans by the Bureau of Land Management to help identify, avoid and mitigate industrial impacts to sensitive areas, including cultural resources.

Pueblo tribes have ancestral ties to the Mesa Verde and Chaco regions, and frequently visit for cultural and religious reasons.

“We still depend on sacred sites to practice our religion and culture, but they are threatened by the destruction of Mother Earth,” said Menchego, Santa Ana’s cultural resource coordinator. “It’s hard to put in English words, but in our native tongue, it is a lack of spiritual respect, a form of trespass.”