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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No Roads Through Sacred Land-Albq 11-20-05

On the afternoon of November 20, 2005, over 400 Indigenous Peoples and their allies rallied against a proposed road which would cut through their sacred land. After gathering in a nearby park, spiritual leaders carrying sacred staffs lead the people on a march to pay homage to the Petroglyphs, which will be removed to make way for the Paseo Del Norte Road.

In a Nov 14 statement, Laurie Weahkee(Sage Council) detailed the history of Indigenous Peoples to protect this sacred area.

Home to over 20,000 petrolgyphs, or etchings in volcanic rock, Petroglyph National Monument is a sacred site still in use today by the area’s Pueblo tribes for religious practices. The All Indian Pueblo Council, the Navajo Nation, the National Congress of American Indians and thousands of individuals and organizations have all expressed their firm opposition to the Paseo Extension.

Now, a decade later – ironically in the midst of his year-long Tricentennial celebration - Mayor Martin Chavez will begin construction of the Paseo del Norte Extension through Petroglyph National Monument.

Of course, a solution could have been brokered over a decade ago that not only would have provided immediate transportation relief to Westside residents, but would not cause Albuquerque to do the unmentionable – destroy a nationally significant Native American religious area. That solution – during the original environmental impact process in the mid 1980s had the active involvement of the city, the federal government and the national park service. Unfortunately, this attempt to reach a win-win solution was shelved by politicians who wanted to make a name for themselves rather than find a compromise. In its place we will soon have hard asphalt and the forced moving of spiritual practices that have gone uninterrupted for millennia.

As Albuquerque continues to promote its diversity, its environmental beauty and its Native American culture to the outside world, we know that within the city, a fierce debate still rages about how we grow and how we treat one another with respect, regardless of your race, where you live or whether you make campaign contributions. Full Statement

In their Nov 7Column of the Americas, Roberto Rodriguez and Patricia Gonzales also questioned the need for "growth and development" when it comes at the expense of the sacred.

the Turtle Island is in peril. Its places of worship are being defiled & desecrated daily. Spiritual bulldozers have paved the way for the mechanical ones. The gods of greed are coming. They continue coming. They bring with them more civilization, now called growth & development.

The bulldozers. They not only scar, but they destroy the sacred. They also destroy memory as they compel us to forget. Just what is it precisely that they want us to forget? And what instead do they want us to honor, to remember?

Forget the bulldozers. Drive a knife through our sacred mother. Not through her guts, but through her back. The knife always goes through the back. If not, use a drill or perhaps a stake...

In New Mexico - as throughout the continent -- they pay homage to many conquistadores, settlers, land thieves, murderers, rapists & slavers. They honor the so-called bringers of civilization. They build statues to them and many monuments. And they name their buildings after them.

In New Mexico, in the Land of Enchantment, they exploit Indians. They're great for tourism. Great for museums and as relics. They are great to be seen… behind displays. Just don't let them come alive and most of all, don't let them speak....

All these years, the Pueblos - in unison -- have spoken clearly and unambiguously. And yet the developers and their political allies have disingenuously wondered out loud that they don't know what it is that the Pueblos really think. One has to wonder what it is that they do not understand? Perhaps they need to learn the languages that have been on this continent for thousands upon thousands of years. Or perhaps, they should simply take the time to view the close to 20,000 messages inscribed at the 17-mile National Petroglyph Monument. They too speak clearly. Full Column

This message was stressed by many speakers throughout the march. Though the march was peaceful, many people were frustrated that all avenues pursued to save the Petroglyphs had been dead ends. When all legal, political and economic options have been exhausted, what paths are left to follow in order to protect our sacred areas?

Though the march seems to have been largely ignored by the media, it was remarkable in that it brought together hundreds of Tribal officials, activists, organizers and scholars. There were members of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Save the Peaks Coalition, Youth of the Peaks Coalition, UNM/IAIA/SIPI students, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Gwich'in Steering Committee, Native Movement, Tonatierra, NYM, Indigenous Youth Coalition, Kanaka Maoli(Hawaii) organizers, Mexica organizers, CO AIM members etc.

We'll be keeping the readers updated as this fight to protect a sacred site is not over.

For more information, go to the following website-Sage Council

Below are some photos from the march.

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