Letter to the Editor
As Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Mexico and Far West Texas I am committed to the preservation and protection of sacred spaces like Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the land that surrounds it.
The preservation of this sacred site is personal to me. I grew up in New Mexico and my parents raised my sister and me to honor and respect sacred places like Chaco Canyon which we visited as a sacred pilgrimage. Chaco Canyon is sacred not only to indigenous peoples but should be sacred to every one of us.
Centuries ago, Chaco was a ceremonial and economic center where Native people built magnificent great houses, astronomical observation sites, and ceremonial kivas. These areas continue to be places of prayer and pilgrimage for various Pueblo and Tribal communities today.
Sadly, oil and gas drilling around Chaco over the years has polluted the air and water, and caused immense harm to the health of children, families and local communities. This drilling has also caused profound harm to cultural sites in and around the Chaco area.
The proposed withdrawal will ensure that we safeguard thousands of archeological and sacred sites and protect clean air and water for the surrounding communities for generations to come.
We have an ethical imperative to heal wrongs from the past that did not honor spiritual traditions and places and this is one way to begin a healing and honoring process.
The awe which a visit to Chaco Canyon inspires must be experienced. The view of the stars can be experienced today much as it was when the stones were first being laid, but further extraction and development threaten the area. The air and water must also be protected.
Chaco Canyon is truly priceless — no amount of oil or gas is worth as much as the air, water, wildlife and cultural elements there. Drilling oil or gas in Chaco Canyon is equivalent to drilling oil next to the National Cathedral or the Vatican. That’s why I support the Department of the Interior’s proposed withdrawal of the 10-mile area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from future oil and gas drilling.
I ask you to join me in supporting the protection of the greater Chaco Landscape and to raise your voice before the public comment period closes on April 6th.
The Right Reverend Michael B Hunn
The Diocese of the Rio Grande
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