Tribe issues resolution of support for national monument on aboriginal homeland
AKELA, NEW MEXICO — On Friday, January 24, 2014, the Fort Sill Apache (FSA) tribe, issued a resolution of support for the establishment of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument located in FSA’s aboriginal homeland.
In accord with Senators Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe fully supports the permanent protection of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks with a national monument designation.
The senators hosted a public hearing on Friday with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Las Cruces, New Mexico near the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks monument to hear public comments about the proposal.
In December 2013, the Senators introduced legislation to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to conserve, protect and enhance scenic, recreational and culturally significant land, according to Senator Heinrich’s office.
The Fort Sill Apache, descendants of the Warm Springs and Chiricahua Apache people, resided in Southwest New Mexico, occupying territory that included the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region before settlement by Europeans and Americans.
“As the people of this land we strongly believe that this region should be permanently protected to preserve valuable tribal cultural resources that originated on these territories,” said Tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous. “National monument designation would allow our children and future generations the opportunity to understand and appreciate the bounty and beauty of their cultural heritage and aboriginal homelands,” added Haozous.
In addition to protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, the Tribe desires to participate in the management of the monument based on their cultural, historical and modern day connection with the former tribal lands. When it’s available, a copy of the official resolution will be posted on the Fort Sill Apache New Mexico website.
The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the successor to the Chiricahua – Warm Springs Apache Tribe. In 1886, they were taken as prisoners of war by the U.S. Army and removed from their homelands of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona to Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, where they were released. They organized as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe after a Federal Court affirmed their claim for the loss of over 14.8 million acres of their homeland. The Tribe has always maintained both its independence as Chiricahua – Warm Springs Apaches and its desire to return to its rightful home. After receiving an invitation from the Governor of New Mexico in 1995 and again in 2000 to return to New Mexico, the Tribe purchased land in Luna County in 1998 and was granted a Reservation in November 2011.
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