Navajo leaders upset with government’s protective order around Chaco site


Not all Native American tribes support Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s move last week to ban oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years around the historic Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico.

The Navajo Nation has come out against Haaland’s decision, saying it undermines the tribe’s sovereignty and might affect its tribal mineral rights.

The Chaco site is on the Navajo Nation and Haaland’s announcement drew immediate criticism from Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren and Speaker Crystalyne Curley.

Reports indicated Nygren wanted a five-mile area protected but Haaland’s decision widened the protective area to a 10-mile buffer around the site. Nygren says by expanding the protective zone to 10 miles, it will impact thousands of Navajo Nation allotment owners.

He’s calling on the Biden administration to reverse Haaland’s decision.