March 13, 2020 – On a recent episode of Our Land, we talked about public lands in New Mexico. They hold different meanings for different people, including each of the state’s American Indian tribes. On this month’s episode, correspondent Laura Paskus talks with a former governor of the Pueblo of Cochiti, tribal councilman Eugene Herrera, who speaks about the pueblo’s relationship with the landscape and its opposition to a popular bill in Congress, sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich, that would transition Bandelier National Monument into Bandelier National Park.
In response to a request for comment, Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement, “While I understand Cochiti Pueblo’s position that they should run Bandelier, I must also respect and protect access for the other pueblos that consider this land sacred. This legislation has broad support from New Mexico’s Pueblo communities because it provides the highest level of protection to Bandelier’s cultural and spiritual resources, ensures religious freedom for tribes, and will be the first National Park in America that integrates Native voices into park management.”
Guest: Eugene Herrera, tribal councilman and former governor, Pueblo of Cochiti
February 14, 2020 – Correspondent Antonia Gonzales also traveled to the Roundhouse to speak with tribal leaders on American Indian Day, February 7th. The day was focused on environmental protection for the next generation. The leaders talked about creating opportunities for young people and the importance of cultural preservation for the future of New Mexico tribes. (This segment is part of our #YourNMGov project, in collaboration with KUNM radio and the Santa Fe Reporter, and funded by the Thornburg Foundation and New Mexico Local News Fund)
Guests: President Gabe Aguilar, Mescalero Apache Tribe Lt. Governor Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni Pueblo Rep. Derrick Lente, NM House District 65
>>GRANT: TRIBAL LEADERS, MEMBERS OF THE NATIVE COMMUNITY, STATE OFFICIALS AND LAWMAKERS RECENTLY CELEBRATED AMERICAN INDIAN DAY, FEBRUARY 7 AT THE ROUNDHOUSE. GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM RECOGNIZED THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STATE’S 23 NATIVE AMERICAN NATIONS, AS TRIBAL LEADERS TOOK TO THE HOUSE FLOOR, TO SPEAK ABOUT PRIORITIES FOR THEIR COMMUNITIES. NMIF CORRESPONDENT, ANTONIO GONZALES, SAYS AT THE TOP OF THE LIST ARE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS FOR THE NEXT GENERATION AS WELL AS CULTURAL PRESERVATION AND PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNGER PEOPLE.
>>LUJAN GRISHAM: I DO HEREBY PROCLAIM, FEBRUARY 7, 2020 AS AMERICAN INDIAN DAY.
>>LENTE: THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING AN AMERICAN INDIAN DAY HERE AT THE LEGISLATURE IS SIMPLY A REMINDER TO THE LEGISLATORS THAT REALLY MAKE THE RULES AND LAWS AND PROVIDE, IN SOME CASES, A LOT OF CAPITAL INFRASTRUCTURE DOLLARS TO OUR OWN PUEBLO NATIONS AND TRIBES, THAT WE HAVE NEEDS, THAT WE ARE HERE, WE HAVE A RICH HISTORY AND WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE. SO THE FACT THAT I AM HERE AS A NATIVE LEGISLATOR HELPS TO PUSH THAT AGENDA ALONG, HELPS TO PUSH THAT IDENTITY ALONG, HELPS THEM TO BETTER EDUCATE THEMSELVES AS TO, AGAIN, AS A NATIVE AMERICAN, THE HISTORY, THERE IS A PRESENT AND FUTURE AND IF I CAN PLAY A PART IN EDUCATING AND REEDUCATING MY COLLEAGUES IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE AND THE EXECUTIVE OF WHAT WE ARE ABOUT AS NATIVE AMERICANS, IT IS ALL BETTER AND GOES TO THE GREATER GOOD OF NATIVE AMERICA NEW MEXICO.
>>GONZALES: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ZUNI PUEBLO, FOR ITS LEADERSHIP AND THE TRIBE TO COME HERE TO THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE AND SPEAK BEFORE STATE LAWMAKERS ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES IMPORTANT TO THE TRIBE?
>>BOWEKATY: THE ABILITY FOR TRIBAL LEADERSHIP TO BE INTERESTED AND OTHER REPRESENTATIVE, WHETHER IT IS THE STATE LEVEL OR THE FEDERAL LEVEL, IS REALLY PART OF WHAT WE BELIEVE TRUST RESPONSIBILITY TO BE A COLLABORATIVE PARTNER IN DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION OF OUR PEOPLE. IF YOU LOOK AT THE PUEBLO HISTORY WITH THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO, ESSENTIALLY IT IS THAT RELATIONSHIP TO ALLOW THE STATE TO BECOME, TO DEVELOP AND BECOME WHAT IT IS TODAY. WITHOUT THAT RELATIONSHIP, THERE IS NO WAY THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE SURVIVED WITHOUT PUEBLO RELATIONSHIP AND COLLABORATION. SO OUR JOURNEY HERE TO SANTA FE AS TRIBAL LEADERS IS A TIME-HONORED TRADITION.
>>AGUILAR: WE ARE MAKING EVERY EFFORT TO MAKE YOUTH OPPORTUNITY TO EXCEL. WE CREATED A STEM PROGRAM. DURING THAT STEM PROGRAM THE KIDS ARE DOING STUFF LIKE HYDRONICS AND THEY ARE MAKING FOOD FOR THE ELDERS, PLANNING, BUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY THINKING OF WAYS TO HELP THE TRIBE UNDERSTAND SOLAR AND HELP THE TRIBE — I THINK AS A COMMUNITY WITH OUR YOUTH, YOUTH ARE OPENING OUR EYES. WHERE WE ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO ENHANCE OUR LANGUAGE THROUGH OUR YOUTH AND WE GOT OUR OWN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS. SO WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE SURE OUR CULTURE IN NEW MEXICO IS KEPT, YOU KNOW, SO THAT THREE GENERATIONS DOWN, THEY STILL ARE DOING CEREMONIES AND SPEAKING OUR LANGUAGE AND THAT IS WHO WE ARE AS NEW MEXICANS. AS NEW MEXICANS, IF WE LOSE THAT, THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO, WE ARE JUST GOING TO BE A REGULAR PERSON. WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE TRIBES. SO, WHO WE ARE AS INDIAN PEOPLE THROUGH OUR YOUTH IS GOING TO KEEP US GOING IN THE FUTURE.
>>GONZALES: CAN YOU TELL ME WHY IT IS IMPORTANT AS A MESCALERO APACHE JUST KIND OF THE VIEW OF THE ENVIRONMENT, NOT ONLY FOR PROTECTIONS, BUT FOR CULTURE, FOR WAY OF LIFE AND FOR YOUR PEOPLE?
>>AGUILAR: A LOT OF THE LAND, THAT IS WHERE WE GATHER OUR MEDICINE, WHERE WE GATHER OUR ROOTS FOR PEOPLE THAT WE HAVE TO HEAL. GETTING OUT AND BEING ALONE AND PRAYING WITH MOTHER EARTH AND PRAYING CLEARS YOUR MIND AND GETS YOU FOCUSED WHAT IT MEANS TO BE NATIVE AMERICAN, BEING APACHE, THAT IS WHAT IT DOES. WE RESPECT IT SO MUCH.
>>GONZALES: AND FOCUS TODAY IS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES IS PROTECTING CHACO CANYON FROM DEVELOPMENT. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHY THAT IS IMPORTANT TO TRIBES.
>>LENTE: THAT IS AN ANCIENT STORIES THAT ARE TOLD CENTURIES AGO FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL. THOSE ARE OUR ANCESTORS. AS A NATIVE AMERICAN I WAS VERY MUCH TAUGHT BY MY GRANDPARENTS AND MY PARENTS THAT WE RESPECT OUR ANCESTORS, RESPECT OUR ELDERS AND THAT THE PART OF THE CHACO CANYON STORY IS A FABRIC UPON WHICH I, AS LEGISLATOR HERE, HAVE BUILT UPON. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND THAT HARMONY. IF WE DON’T STAND UP AND STAND UP AND SPEAK ON BEHALF OF THOSE THAT CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES ANY MORE, LIKE OUR OR ANCESTORS AT CHACO CANYON, LIKE THE SPIRIT THAT IS CHACO CANYON OR THE SPIRIT THAT IS THE RIO GRANDE RIVER OR THE SPIRIT THAT IS THE MOUNTAINS THAT ARE IN BACK OF YOU THERE, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO LEAVE TO OUR OWN CHILDREN AND THOSE THAT ARE YET TO COME THAT WE HAVE TO PROTECT THEM.
>>BOWEKATY: PUEBLO ZUNI HAS CONSIDERED CHACO CANYON AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR MIGRATION HISTORY AND WAY OF LIFE. WE CONSIDER CHACO CANYON TO BE A BIRTH PLACE OF MANY OF THE SOCIETIES AND OF THE PRAYERS AND SONGS THAT WE HAVE DEVELOPED OVER TIME THERE. SO, TO SAY WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THIS AREA OR INTEREST IN RECENT DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE, I GUESS, IN THIS SITUATION, A SLAP IN THE FACE.
>>GONZALES: THE ZUNI PUEBLO HAS LONG FOUGHT FOR ENVIRONMENT ISSUES AND SACRED SITE PROTECTION. YOU KNOWN FOR WORKING TO PROTECT THE SALT LAKE. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PROTECT THESE AREAS FOR ZUNI PUEBLO?
>>BOWEKATY: THE REASON WE PROTECT TRADITIONAL CULTURAL PROPERTIES AND AREAS AS IMPORTANT TO ZUNI IS BECAUSE THEY DIRECTLY LINK US TO OUR ANCESTRAL PILGRIMAGE AS WELL AS OUR WAY OF LIFE. AND OUR WAY OF LIFE IS A LOT OF SONGS WE HAVE AND PRAYERS WE HAVE, SOME OF THOSE ARE IN BYGONE LANGUAGES. SOME OF THOSE SONGS AND PRAYERS WE HAVE, SOME EXIST IN SOME FORM OR FASHION OTHER THAN OUR WAY OF LIFE. AND WE BELIEVE THAT IT IS THAT CONNECTION AND THE DISCOVERY TO THESE PREVIOUS PLACES ALLOWS US TO PROVIDE OUR PEOPLE THAT SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND COURAGE TO CONTINUE OUR WAY OF LIFE AND AS OUR LEADERS HAVE SAID BEFORE, WHAT DO WE DO NOW TO MAKE SURE AND CONTINUE PRESERVING SO THAT WAY OUR KIDS HAVE WHAT WE HAVE TODAY, 100 YEARS FROM NOW.