All Pueblo Council of Governors Requests for public to temporarily refrain from entering Pueblo reservations and nearby recreational areas


As state and federal directives for ‘social distancing’ continue, Pueblo communities see onset in high influx of visitors
News Release

All Pueblo Council of Governors

As New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise in recent weeks, Pueblo governments have joined nationwide response efforts in coordination with local, state, and federal agencies. Following national trends, Pueblos have engaged in banning forms of travel and have closed all New Mexico tribal gaming facilities and operations. Many have declared states of emergency in preparation for receipt of critical federal funding to address the unprecedented level of need by Pueblo communities responding to the pandemic. Amid response efforts this week, authorities who oversee federally owned lands have temporarily waived entrance fees to lend recreational social distancing spaces for members of the public. The lack of consultation for this directive has caused concern by Pueblo leadership.

“In Cochiti Pueblo, we have seen an overcrowding of recreationalists from outside our communities coming here and to surrounding areas to hike, and while we would otherwise welcome visitors to our lands, we are worried for the more vulnerable demographics of our community and the lack of resources to address this national health emergency. Our elders, who are invaluable traditional knowledge keepers and beloved members of our community, are particularly susceptible to this virus and we must fulfill our responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being.” 

– Governor Charles Naranjo, Cochiti Pueblo

“As the numbers climb, the Pueblo of Jemez has been closed to non-tribal members. We are taking all the necessary preventative measures to ensure the health of our community during this critical time and encourage members of the public to please stay home. We understand many public places have closed, and staying home for long periods can be challenging, especially for the outdoor enthusiasts, but we respectfully request members of the public to be considerate of our efforts and wishes.”

– Governor David M. Toledo, Jemez Pueblo

In a recent survey disseminated by the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Pueblos have reported among their top concerns, lack of COVID-19 testing and sanitation supplies, as well as elderly care and support services. Many Pueblos have also reported limiting entrance to their Pueblos and communities to tribal members only, but many others have indicated they are not able to do so due to the number of access points and capacity of staff directed to other essential response efforts.

“We as Pueblo Nations continue working around the clock advocating for our communities’ needs and resources to a host of state and governmental agencies and Congress. However, the immense scale of this pandemic has created new challenges in the delivery and expansion of preparedness resources available to our communities. The relationships we build and respect with one another at all levels—from those at the national level to the very local community level—will become even more important as we collectively address this emergency. We firmly and respectfully ask members of the public to support our Pueblo Nations in caring for the lands and livelihood of all generations of our communities by respecting our request for members of the public to pause trips to or near Pueblo communities and neighboring recreational sites including, but not limited to, those at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and Cochiti Lake, Jemez Historic Site, Red Rocks and Hot Springs and Puye Cliff Dwellings.” 

– Chairman J. Michael Chavarria, All Pueblo Council of Governors

Members of the public who have questions or would like information on “know before you go” are welcome to contact the All Pueblo Council of Governors at:

All Pueblo Council of Governors - logo
(Image: All Pueblo Council of Governors)

‘Huge Victory’ for Standing Rock Sioux

Published on

‘Huge Victory’ for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as Federal Court Rules DAPL Permits Violated Law

“This is what the tribe has been fighting for many months. Their fearless organizing continues to change the game.”

Thousands of water protectors and allies spent weeks at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota in 2016 to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo: Reuters)

A federal judge handed down a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota on Wednesday, ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The USACE must complete a full environmental impact study of the pipeline, including full consideration of concerns presented by the Standing Rock Tribe, the judge ruled. The tribe has asked the court to ultimately shut the pipeline down.

The court chastised the USACE for moving ahead with affirming the permits in 2016 and allowing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) crossing the Missouri River after President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017, without considering the expert analysis put forward by the tribe.

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win. It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”
—Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

The Standing Rock Sioux had raised concerns regarding the likelihood and danger of potential oil spills, DAPL’s leak-detection system, and the safety record of Sunoco Logistics, the company behind the pipeline. Sunoco “has experienced 276 incidents resulting in over $53 million in property damage from 2006 to 2016” and has “one of the lowest performing safety records of any operator in the industry,” the tribe’s experts found.

The federal ruling “validates everything the Tribe has been saying all along about the risk of oil spills to the people of Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman in a statement. “The Obama administration had it right when it moved to deny the permits in 2016, and this is the second time the court has ruled that the government ran afoul of environmental laws when it permitted this pipeline. We will continue to see this through until DAPL has finally been shut down.”

DAPL and the fight against the pipeline was the subject of international attention in 2016 when thousands of water defenders gathered at camps in North Dakota, facing a highly militarized police force armed with tanks, riot gear, rubber bullets, and other weapons.

Since Trump reversed former President Barack Obama’s December 2016 order denying the permits and allowed the construction to be completed in June 2017, the tribe has challenged the permits and demanded the USACE conduct a full environmental analysis.

Wednesday’s ruling represented a “huge victory” for the tribe, co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted.

“Such thanks to all who fight!” he wrote.

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet. Perhaps in the wake of this court ruling the federal government will begin to catch on, too, starting by actually listening to us when we voice our concerns.”

Others on social media celebrated the victory and applauded the “tireless efforts” of the campaigners, with the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America calling the decision the “absolute best possible outcome” of the court battle.

“This is why we never stop fighting,” Earthjustice president Abbie Dillen said.

Creativity even in troubled times…

First and foremost, I hope that you are staying safe and healthy. At this critical moment for our shared society, it’s more important than ever that we look out for one another — even as we are asked to keep our distance. Right now, the Lakota People’s Law Project has staff stationed at Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, and Cheyenne River. We are talking to tribal leaders about ways we can support them in essential work, even while they create emergency plans to respond to the spread of COVID-19. We will keep you updated.

Meanwhile, I write to share with you today about an inspirational partnership that has yielded three wonderful outcomes at Pine Ridge: four college scholarships for Native American girls, the planting of at least 7,000 trees on the reservation, and a new way to support Native artisans.

Lakota Law
Henry Red Cloud, pictured here, has planted over 110,000 trees with the help of a volunteer team. Picture courtesy of

For some time now, the Lakota People’s Law Project has enjoyed dedicated support from the good people at Nomadics Tipi Makers. Like LPLP, Jeb and Nicole, who run the company, are always looking for ways to best support Native communities. As time has passed, we have deepened our connection with them and shared ideas.

As part of that, we’ve helped network them with others in the community. One such connection is with Henry Red Cloud — who, like our own Phyllis Young, is a MIT Solve Laureate. He is a visionary environmental leader at Pine Ridge who installs solar around the reservation and plants trees to restore sacred sites and provide increased access to fresh fruit for our people. With his company, Red Cloud Renewable, Henry has facilitated a (literally) fruitful partnership by agreeing to work with Nomadics to plant one tree for every tipi pole the company sells — with all expenses for the project covered by Nomadics.

Jeb and Nicole’s commitment to providing sustained support to Native people also includes the establishment of a $20,000 per year scholarship fund — $5,000 each for four young Native American women to attend Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first round of scholarship money is already headed to young women at Pine Ridge.

Finally, Jeb and Nicole have also found a great way to provide resources to Native artists at Pine Ridge by collaborating with them to paint tipi covers with personal, authentic artwork. Nomadics will send tipi covers to the artists and will pay forward to the reservation 100 percent of the artwork price as charged to individual customers.

These measures to bring support and health to Pine Ridge take on extra meaning at a time like the present. As we all hunker down for what looks to be a challenging road ahead, know that your support of the Lakota People’s Law Project has helped facilitate some extremely positive connections that will matter greatly, both right now for local artists and into the future for our young people and our reservation as a whole.

Wopila — Thank you, as always, and please stay safe and well!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project