The Biden administration claims to stand for the little guy and minorities; however, Native Americans in New Mexico are not happy.
However, policies created by Biden have infuriated the Navajo Nation and recently they gave Biden a taste of his own medicine.
On June 2nd, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a ban on new oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. The move been was met by criticism from local Navajo Nation citizens, many of whom rely on the fees from the leases to support their families. This past Sunday, the protesters exercised their right to demonstrate by blocking the entrance and setting up signs that read “Go Home” and “No Trespassing.”
The incident occurred as Sec. Haaland and Bureau of Indian Affairs head Bryan Newland were attempting to enter the national park nearby. Secretary Haaland expressed her disappointment with the protest when she addressed a crowd in Albuquerque, saying that it was “heartbreaking” to see any road into a public space blocked.
Today, @SecDebHaaland was supposed to celebrate at Chaco Canyon with tribal, state and federal leaders about the new ban on oil and gas leases in the area. Navajo allottees blocked off the entrance in protest.
— Megan Gleason (@fabflutist2716) June 11, 2023
Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren sees the ban as an attack on the sovereignty of his citizens. He’s argued that it will hurt low-income Navajo citizens who depend on income from the oil leases within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon. It’s estimated that if the ban goes through, the Navajo allotment holders are set to lose $194 million in income.
What’s more, Nygren claims that the ban was put forward without properly consulting the Navajo Nation and the communities near Chaco Canyon that will be most affected. The tribe had proposed a compromise of a five-mile buffer zone for the oil leasing, but Sec. Haland never fully considered the option.
Critics of the ban are concerned that it could indirectly make Indian-owned allotments worthless. This is because drilling on the Navajo allotments requires horizontal crossings that pass through federal land, which has now been included in the ban.
For their part, the Western Energy Alliance, an industry group which represents oil and gas producers, has said that the ban is “…absolutely unnecessary and will eliminate over $194 million in annual revenue to mostly Native American landowners while crippling an industry that is a vital component of the region’s economy.”
“These Navajo landowners served up a much-needed dose of reality to Deb Haaland and Joe Biden,” Daniel Turner, the founder and executive director of Power The Future, said in a statement. “The decision to cut off their land from oil and gas development was opposed by the landowners and the leadership of the Navajo Nation, yet the green agenda always comes first for Biden and Haaland.”