WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 21, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced legislation to establish Bandelier National Park and Preserve.
Senator Heinrich's legislation seeks to protect in statute a strong relationship between the National Park Service and pueblos whose history and culture lies in Bandelier. The bill would establish a tribal commission, which would provide guidance for park management that reflects traditional and historical knowledge and values. In a historic precedent for a national park, traditional knowledge will be required by statute to be considered in land management planning. Additionally, the bill would permanently safeguard tribes' religious rights and practices in Bandelier.
To read the full bill, click HERE.
"When I talk to people about what makes New Mexico unique, it always comes back to our breathtaking landscapes, our deep and complex history, and our unique cultures. Bandelier National Monument encapsulates each of these in unrivaled ways. It’s long past time that we recognize that Bandelier’s historical and natural resources are more than worthy of national park status,” said Heinrich. "This is, after all, a living cultural landscape. Bandelier’s mesas and canyons have human history that dates back more than 10,000 years. The ancestral sites in Bandelier continue to hold deep cultural and religious significance to the pueblos. Upgrading Bandelier to national park status is the best way to ensure these cultural treasures and northern New Mexico’s history and natural beauty receive the recognition and permanent protection they have long deserved."
During the drafting process, Senator Heinrich’s legislation has garnered widespread support and endorsements from local communities throughout northern New Mexico and tribes across Indian Country.
“The Pueblo of Zuni supports Senator Martin Heinrich and his efforts to establish the Bandelier National Park and Preserve in the State of New Mexico. Senator Heinrich’s legislation ensures that the traditional and historical knowledge of Zuni and other pueblos is reflected in the management of this sacred cultural landscape,” said Governor of Zuni Pueblo Val Panteah.
“As one of the six culturally affiliated pueblos to the area, we are always concerned with the ability to access the area for religious purposes. This includes the gathering of plants and minerals and visits to certain areas in the monument. Not only is it important to us today, we want the ability for this to continue for generations to come. This is why we support Senator Heinrich’s legislation,” said Santo Domingo Governor Joe M. Aguilar.
“The Pueblo of Tesuque wants future generations to enjoy the many gifts of the Pajarito Plateau. Furthermore, we hope Bandelier will continue to educate all people, regardless of creed or heritage, on the Ancestral and modern Puebloan way of life,” said Governor of Tesuque Pueblo Milton Herrera.
“Santa Clara Pueblo is very appreciative of Senator Heinrich for taking the lead on advancing legislation that would elevate Bandelier National Monument to National Park status. Although Bandelier is most famous for its ancient pueblo dwellings, it is also a place of ongoing spiritual significance and activities for our people. Its preservation and our ability to access those lands for traditional practices is of the utmost importance to us,” said Governor of Santa Clara Pueblo Michael Chavarria.
“When President Wilson designated Bandelier as a national monument in 1916, it sent a clear message that damaging and looting our heritage is unethical and illegal. Senator Heinrich’s legislation will enshrine these provisions in law and safeguard these much needed protections,” said Governor of Picuris Pueblo Craig Quanchello.
“We appreciate that the legislation includes provisions to protect access for tribes to gather plants and minerals and also ensures tribes’ rights to conduct their religious practices as articulated in the American Indian Religious Freedom Act,” said Governor of Zia Pueblo Antonio Medina.
“ Pueblo believes the cultural resources and landscapes associated with Bandelier deserve the highest level of protection. It is imperative that Congress protect Bandelier and other resources like it, to preserve both the heritage and modern day practices of the Pueblo people,” said Governor of Sandia Pueblo Isaac Lujan.
“The legislation contains provisions to establish a tribal commission to integrate Native voices into the management of the national park. Something that is long overdue in the national park service system,” said Governor of Isleta Pueblo Max A. Zuni.
“Bandelier National Monument was created in 1916 to prevent the damaging and looting of our Tewa heritage. After more than 100 years, it is time for Congress to enshrine these protections in law and incorporate Native voices in to the management of the national park,” said Governor of Nambe Pueblo Phillip A. Perez.
“Pojoaque appreciates that [Senator Heinrich’s] legislation provides the highest level of protection for sacred sites that remain important to Native Americans. Pojoaque also appreciates that the legislation seeks to reduce unnecessary bureaucratic interference with traditional religious practices,” said Governor of Pojoaque Pueblo Joseph M. Talachy.
“[Taos Pueblo] appreciates the extensive outreach while forming the legislation, and feels the bill is stronger because you spent time listening to New Mexico’s tribal communities,” said Governor of Taos Pueblo Richard Aspenwind.
“The thousands of ancient cultural sites in Bandelier represent an anchor for tribes to understand and share with today’s generation who they are, and helps show us the way to a more hopeful future,” said Governor of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Ron Lovato.