Uh-Oh Joe, Protestors Shut Down Biden Event - WATCH
The Navajo Nation has been left in financial turmoil after a new oil leasing ban was implemented over the weekend by the Biden administration.
The ban, set to remain in effect for 20 years, completely prohibits oil, gas, and mineral leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon, located in Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. This would mean a loss of more than $194 million in royalties for Navajo citizens who are currently leasing 53 allotments, as reported by the Western Energy Alliance.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland claimed that the ban "will not impact existing leases," however this contradicts the opinion of Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, who noted that the ban will make the Navajo Nation's allotments worthless. He also argued that the ban disregards those local communities and will put people already living in poverty in even tougher conditions.
The Navajo Nation had previously suggested a smaller five-mile buffer zone, however, the DOI failed to consider the proposal when implementing the ban. As a result, a group of Navajo citizens staged a road blockade on Sunday that prevented Haaland and Bryan Newland, the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, from attending a scheduled event celebrating the action in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Haaland ultimately called the protest "not ideal," telling reporters, "To see any road — yes, less than ideal. That's the nicest thing I can say — to see any road into any of our national parks or our public lands blocked was heartbreaking because our public lands belong to all Americans."
Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation continues to look for answers as to how their land allotments and royalties can remain viable. Their pleas for assistance as they face an uncertain future have yet to be addressed by the Biden administration.
Opponents and supporters of the buffer zone around Chaco Canyon clashed today after Navajo allottees blockaded the road to the park in preparation for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's planned visit. The allottee protestors did not let cars into the park. pic.twitter.com/ZCnxA02bBv
— Hannah Grover (@hmgrover) June 11, 2023