After Haaland scorns Navajo Nation, council rejects Chaco Canyon buffer plan

The 25th Navajo Nation Council voted to reject a plan by the U.S. Department of the Interior led by Secretary Deb Haaland, a former New Mexico congresswoman, that would withdraw 351,000 acres of land around Chaco Canyon, pushing Navajo property owners (allottees) into “greater poverty,” a “contradiction of her professed concern for environmental and economic justice for Native American communities,” according to the Western Energy Alliance (WEA).

The Council wrote, “If the buffer zone is adopted, the Navajo allottees who rely on the income realized from oil and natural gas royalties will be pushed into greater poverty.” It stressed the “detrimental impact to Navajo Nation allottees by preventing the development of new oil and gas resources on allotments as a result of the allotments being landlocked,” exposing the fallacy from DOI that the withdrawal will not impact Navajo lands. 

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) plan to withdraw 351,000 acres from oil and natural gas leasing would cost Navajo members with allotted property rights an estimated $194 million over the next 20 years. The group notes, “The Navajo Nation withdrew its previous five-mile buffer resolution after DOI failed to even consider the tribe’s compromise alternative to a proposed ten-mile buffer.” 

WEA president Kathleen Sgamma said, “Sec. Haaland and Interior Department officials have grossly mismanaged the land withdrawal process since first announcing it in 2021. They have failed to hold adequate tribal consultations and listen to the voices of the Navajo Nation in the immediate vicinity of Chaco while giving preference to Sec. Haaland’s and related Puebloan tribes hundreds of miles away. Interior has exhibited a lack of environmental justice as they work internally to advance this ill-conceived proposal.”

“Recent congressional testimony by Sec. Haaland displayed her lack of understanding of the massive cost to a disadvantaged Native American community. She was unable to answer questions about the costs of foregone oil and natural gas royalties to tribal members. And despite her claims that the energy rights of Navajos would be protected she was unable to guarantee access to those minerals. What good are rights if Interior isolates your lands and you can’t access your resources?”

Sec. Haaland also has several conflicts of interest when it comes to plans to create a buffer around Chaco Canyon. “In a recent letter to lawmakers in Congress, the Alliance pointed out the secretary’s deep connections to a climate activist group in New Mexico lobbying the agency on the withdrawal. Sec. Haaland’s daughter works for the Pueblo Action Alliance, an organization that helped coordinate a violent anti-oil-and-gas protest at Interior headquarters and has aggressively lobbied DOI and Congress to advance the Chaco withdrawal,” WEA concluded.


9 thoughts on “After Haaland scorns Navajo Nation, council rejects Chaco Canyon buffer plan”

  1. She’s doing exactly what her Communist masters are telling her to do. She has no care for New Mexicans or Native Americans, that she was allegedly elected to represent – it is all about the agenda to steal land from private ownership under the guise of ‘climate change’.

    1. She cares less about The Navajo people who rely on the income which was established before she was appointed the position. She lies about the welfare of Navajo Allotees who rely on the income that is generated for them only to push them Farther into poverty. A useless puppet of the Biden racist Administration.

  2. They need to reopen the coal burning power plants in New Mexico and Arizona where Navajos had great paying jobs that supported many remote communities. You can’t run a modern country without petroleum products. Their slogan is “ Back to the Pleistocene”.

  3. Haaland is a disgrace to her native American community. It’s obvious that she, like all other Biden appointees, is grossly unqualified for the job. Elections have consequences and STOLEN elections have grave consequences, as we are currently experiencing. We need to PRAY without ceasing… national day of prayer is an opportunity to do so…

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