January 8, 2021 – Public lands in New Mexico hold different meanings for different people, including each of the state’s American Indian tribes. On this month’s episode of Our Land, we look back to a 2020 conversation between correspondent Laura Paskus and Eugene Herrera, former governor of the Pueblo of Cochiti.
Herrera spoke about the pueblo’s relationship with the landscape and opposition to a bill Sen. Martin Heinrich introduced to make Bandelier National Monument a national park—and also open certain lands to public hunting.
Now, in 2021, Sen. Heinrich plans to reintroduce that bill to redesignate Bandelier National Monument as Bandelier National Park and Preserve in the 117th Congress. And while other northern New Mexico pueblos support the bill, leaders at Cochiti still oppose it—and are disappointed the senator plans to reintroduce it, particularly at a time when the tribe is grappling with the spread of COVID-19.
NMPBS requested an interview with Sen. Heinrich, but he was unavailable this week.
His office forwarded a statement from the senator’s March 2020 remarks on the bill: “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.”
Correspondent: Laura Paskus
Guest: Eugene Herrera, former governor, Pueblo of Cochiti
For More Information:
To read SB 2924: Bandelier National Park and Preserve Establishment Act
Sen. Martin Heinrich’s Nov. 2019 statement on the bill: Heinrich Introduces Bill to Establish Bandelier National Park and Preserve
To view a map showing the proposed changes: Proposed Map
More Opposition to Bandelier National Park Bill