For Immediate Release: June 30, 2023
Diné and Pueblo Solidarity Remains Strong in Advancing Greater Chaco Protections
New Chaco Protections Are a First Step says Greater Chaco Coalition, Condemning Attacks on Secretary Haaland’s Administrative Withdrawal
The grassroots coalition dedicated to protecting the Greater Chaco region condemns attacks on Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Diné and Pueblo solidarity has been a central value and practice of the Greater Chaco Coalition, which will continue to build strong unified relationships to address the devastating impacts of oil and gas extraction on the land, water, air and communities.
“The recent decision of Secretary Deb Haaland to implement a 20-year, 10-mile drilling moratorium surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a good first step,” said Robyn Jackson, executive director of Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (Diné C.A.R.E.) “Following the direction of frontline Diné leaders and our Pueblo relatives, our coalition will continue to demand that the Interior Department center public health and environmental justice in broad landscape-level management across Dinétah and the region through its Honoring Chaco Initiative.”
Secretary Haaland’s efforts to safeguard the Greater Chaco Landscape are a response to years of advocacy by Pueblos, Tribal Nations, Navajo Nation Chapters, former and present New Mexico Congressional Delegates, Indigenous organizations, environmental groups, archaeological preservation organizations and frontline community members, which began years before Secretary Haaland’s appointment.
“The oil and gas industry has a long track record of turning sacred landscapes into private assets and sowing division in Indigenous communities,” said Cheyenne Antonio, coordinator for the Greater Chaco Coalition. “They will be satisfied with nothing less than drilling every last square inch of ancestral lands. But Greater Chaco is sacred to many Indigenous people and their respective Nations. This decision is an important step in preserving this special and irreplaceable part of our homelands for future generations. We will continue to be united in advocating for landscape-level protections that expand outside the newly created buffer.”
“Many of our communities have both Diné and Pueblo lineage and have strong connections to the Greater Chaco region,” said Samuel Sage, Community Services Coordinator of Counselor Chapter. “Our shared work to protect land, water, air and communities is rooted in deep reverence, care, and respect - including for all Diné and Pueblo people with ties to this sacred region that has been treated as an energy sacrifice zone for far too long.”
“We envision safe and healthy Diné communities with economic opportunities beyond the sacrifice of land, air, water, and people,“ said Lauren Howland, Navajo allotment land owner and representative of Diné Allottees Against eXploitation, which works with allotment land owners to address the harms of extractive colonialism, including the repatriation of stolen lands, and the possibility for a new era of collaborative land management across Dinétah and the Greater Chaco region. “We will continue to work with allotment owners to protect the health and wellbeing of our local communities and environment, which we have a duty to align with Diné values and ways of living.”
The Greater Chaco Coalition (Frack Off Chaco) is a collaborative effort between Indigenous community leaders, Native organizations, nonprofits, and public lands and water protectors advocating for greater protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape. Operating by the Jemez principles, the Coalition works together to advance the following platform:
- An end to sacrifice zones and further oil and gas extraction across the Greater Chaco region;
- Meaningful Tribal and community consultation and consent at every stage of decision making;
- Consideration of cumulative impacts and the health and holistic wellness of impacted communities;
- Advancement of environmental justice and just transitions for the Greater Chaco region beyond extraction.
About Greater Chaco: The Greater Chaco region is a living and ancient landscape sacred to Indigenous peoples. For over a century, the federal government has treated the Greater Chaco region like a national energy sacrifice zone. Large-scale resource exploitation, including a history of Diné displacement and land theft, the Greater Chaco region has been carved into a complex checkerboard of federal, state, private, and Navajo allotment land. A maze of federal, state and multiple agencies, law and regulations control the area, allowing for oil, gas, and mining companies to exploit communities.
Greater Chaco Coalition members demonstrate Diné/Pueblo solidarity, calling on BLM to truly Honor Greater Chaco. 2022.
Diné/Pueblo and #FrackOff prayer run to protest lease sale. 2019.
Diné/Pueblo solidarity #FrackOffChaco awareness and prayer run in 2017.