Jemez Pueblo Sues United States for the Return of Valles Caldera
(Source: Red Rocks Reporter Aug 2012)
On July 20, Jemez Pueblo ﬁled suit against the United States for return of the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP.)
“We believe this may be the ﬁrst time that any American Indian tribe has sued the United States to return Indian lands outside the reservation,” says Tom Luebben, Jemez Pueblo special counsel for land claims. “Just like the return of the sacred Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo, this effort may take many years. The Pueblo must prove that it holds aboriginal Indian title to the Valles Caldera going back more than 800 years to the time when the Hemish people ﬁrst migrated into the Jemez Mountains.”
“We have never relinquished our aboriginal rights to this area,” says Gov. Madalena. “The many traditional cultural sites on the Valles Caldera remain critically important to our people. The area also includes natural resources, including herbs and wildlife, that are important to our way of life. We will reclaim these lands for our people and our cultural heritage.”
The VCNP is currently managed by a Board of Directors and mandated to achieve ﬁnancial self-sufﬁciency by the time their terms expire in 2015.
“We are working on a management plan to train and prepare tribal members for professional land management responsibilities. We are also seeking other professional resources as we need them," the Governor says.
Gov. Madalena adds that he wants to keep the Valles Caldera open to visitors. “We want to preserve and protect these sacred lands for our people as well as share them with others who will appreciate this special place.”