Estimates run as high as 75,000 of wild horses that roam Navajo Nation. PHOTO Courtesy Habitat for Horses
Robert Redford, Bill Richardson and Navajo President Ben Shelly Sign Agreement This Summer
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA — After months of negotiations, the Navajo Nation and the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Life has reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect wild horses on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Bill Richardson and Robert Redford founded the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife. PHOTO Courtesy Habitat for Horses
The announcement was made by the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, who participated in the negotiations with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is a co-founder of the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Life. Actor and director Robert Redford is also a co-founder of the foundation.
It is estimated that as high as 75,000 wild horses roam the Navajo Indian Reservation and are contaminating drinking wells. Up until last summer, the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture was rounding up some of the wild horses which were sent to be slaughtered. After a public outcry, the round-up ceased.
“Working together to resolve challenges is our approach as we work with Governor Richardson and his Foundation. They will give us funding and find more resources to reverse the population of feral horses,” President Shelly said. “We will continue to treat these animals humanely and implement the best solutions to our rangeland issues.”
“Horses are sacred to the Navajo people. We have songs, prayers and ceremonies that are performed in their honor,” President Shelly continued. “We will have a medicine man available during the signing to share our cultural perspective and relationship with horses.”
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly
“This historic agreement is a great first-step in our efforts to not only protect these horses, but to find humane and long-term solutions that are in the best interest of the Navajo people and their land,” commented Governor Richardson. “I commend President Shelly for his commitment to this issue, and we look forward to getting right to work,” he added.
According to the MOU, the foundation agrees to fundraise and secure resources for the Navajo Nation to use for the successful implementation of the management program.
This will involve working with the federal government, states, conservation groups, private parties, and foundations to identify resources for adoptions, triages, veterinarian services, and sanctuaries.
The Navajo Nation agrees to make reasonable efforts to work with buyers offering humane alternatives to the transportation of horses to slaughter facilities and sales to buyers transporting horses to slaughter facilities.
The Navajo Nation will also work with the Foundation to secure resources for the implementation of the program.
The term of the MOU is one year from the date of execution, which will be announced early summer 2014.
Plans are to have a signing ceremony in Window Rock with Governor Richardson and Robert Redford. Redford is currently filming a movie and will not be available for the signing until early summer.