New Mexico Wildfire Threaten Tribal Sacred Sites

The same wildfire that threatened the Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory is now raging in northern New Mexico and is threatening the Pueblo Indian tribe’s sacred sites. Since Saturday more than sixteen hundred firefighters worked to try and stop the one hundred seventy seven square mile fire, which was burning its way through the canyon on the reservation of the Santa Clara Pueblo Indians.

The firefighters did get a little help on Saturday with some rain that slowed down the fire. The fire has damaged the land that is considers the birthplace of the tribe plus scorching twenty square miles of forest. The wildfire is close to the historical national landmark, the old Puye Cliff Dwellings.

At this time about two thousand eight hundred tribal members are living in a village that is in New Mexico’s desert, near the entrance of the Santa Clara Canyon. The tribal members are worried that the wildfire will destroy their pueblos, watersheds, and cabins but the fire chief is not sure at this time if any of the cabins or water areas survived the blaze. This canyon can be found just north of Los Alamos.

The tribe is also worried that the one point five million trees that were replanted after the 2000 wildfire have been burned. In addition, they are also worried about the work that they have done to restore the Rio Grande cuthroat trout to the waters of the Santa Clara Creek.

Tribes Fear Loss Of Sacred Sites Near NM Fire
NPR, on Sun, 03 Jul 2011 07:08:03 -0700

But the blaze, the largest ever in New Mexico, reached the Santa Clara Pueblo’s watershed in the canyon this week, damaging the area that the tribe considers its birthplace and scorching 20 square miles oftribal forest. Fire operations chief Jerome 

Keeping Up the Fight; Fire Crews Spend Long Days on Line
FireEngineering.com, on Sun, 03 Jul 2011 07:29:55 -0700

Some out-of-state crews were ready and waiting in New Mexico when the fire started. Montana’s Flathead National Forest firefighters had been reassigned from the rainsoaked Northwest to northern New Mexico because droughtfueled fire was imminent.