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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Governor Richardson Signs Executive Order Protecting Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary

Yesterday, Governor Bill Richardson signed an Executive Order extending greater protection to the sacred Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary. The additional protection promotes greater stewardship of the lake and its natural resources. “The Zuni Salt Lake is a site of great cultural and religious importance to the people of Zuni and many other indigenous peoples throughout New Mexico and Arizona,” said Governor Richardson at the signing ceremony. “My action today will promote a collaborative relationship between state agencies and the Zuni Tribe to safeguard the unique historical and cultural significance of this sacred place.”

For several decades the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary has been threatened by proposed development that would have a lasting impact on the natural and cultural resources in the area. For this reason, Zuni Governor Norman Cooeyate, tribal officials and traditional leaders have long sought the additional protection that will result from the Executive Order.

“This day will be remembered in Zuni for a long time to come, not just for what is being signed by our friend Governor Bill Richardson today, but for all the battles that have been fought by a collection of individuals, tribal leaders, organizations and friends of our Mother, Zuni Salt Lake, for many years,” Governor Cooeyate said. “This is a culmination of their work, and we are honored to put some finality to their devotion and dedication in protecting the Zuni Salt Lake. I personally thank Governor Richardson for his assistance and kindness in heeding my request to further protect the Zuni Salt Lake with various New Mexico state agencies.”

Developed collaboratively over several months by Zuni leaders and representatives, the Indian Affairs Department, other state agencies and Governor Richardson’s Office, the Executive Order reflects the intent of SB 196, the State-Tribal Collaboration Act of 2009.

“I commend Governor Richardson and Governor Cooeyate for demonstrating today how effective and respectful state-tribal government-to-government relations benefits all New Mexicans,” said Alvin H. Warren, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department. “The Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary is well-deserving of additional protection as a place sacred to tribes throughout the southwest and as a valued part of New Mexico’s heritage.”

In the Executive Order, Governor Richardson directs several state agencies to take specific action to protect the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary from adverse impacts such as mining and other activities that may affect the lake. These actions include:

  • directing the Office of the State Engineer to designate a team to work with the Zuni Tribe and the United States to ensure the continuing survival and integrity of the Zuni Salt Lake in perpetuity;
  • requiring the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to consult with the Zuni Tribe to ensure that the Department’s regulations and permitting processes protect the water, cultural, and other resources of the area surrounding the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary;
  • directing the New Mexico Environment Department to take any steps available under law to ensure the area surrounding the Salt Lake and Sanctuary is protected from adverse impacts from mining or other activities that threaten the environment and
  • instructing the Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Division to assist the Tribe in its efforts to have the Salt Lake and Sanctuary added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a World Heritage Site.

Click to read the full text of the Executive Order.

November 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM in Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Native Americans | Permalink

Comments

Fantastic ! He will be so missed for the many great policies, initiatives and protections he has accomplished for New Mexico while in office.

Posted by: Anita Walsh | Nov 11, 2010 1:57:20 PM

whoo! i was there when he signed it thnk you for doing that now we will alwayshave our salt

Posted by: adrian Q | Nov 17, 2010 11:44:15 AM