ALBUQUERQUE — What started as a Sunday walk at Petroglyph National Monument by a Navajo/Oneida man ended in a confrontation with a National Park Service ranger that left the Native man screaming on the ground after he had been tased multiple times.  

The incident has drawn the attention of several members of Congress. 

Within the grounds of Petroglyph National Monument is one of the country’s largest petroglyph sites that features designs and symbols carved into rocks by American Indians and Spanish settlers. The designs and symbols date back 400 to 700 years.

American Indians consider the New Mexico monument sacred and go there to pray. Hiking is allowed on designated trails to protect the archeological integrity of the monument.

A 9-minute 15-second video on the NPS website shows an unidentified NPS ranger attempting to secure the identity of the man who was walking off the trail with his sister and his dog.

Darrell House (Navajo/Oneida), a U.S. Marine veteran, posted his own video of the incident, taken on his cell phone, on Instagram.

House told the ranger he and his sister left the trail to practice social distancing after they saw a large party approaching them.

The ranger told the man that they were not authorized to be off of the trail and then asked House for his identification. House refused to comply with the ranger’s request and began walking away from the ranger. The ranger followed after House and his sister.

The NPS video shows House continually refusing to provide his identification and then eventually saying his name was Jerald Humphrey. The park ranger appears increasingly irritated by House’s refusal to cooperate with him.

During the interaction, House responds to the ranger’s request by saying, “Natives Americans and the government and law don’t mesh well, you know that. We’ve had our differences before. You’re on our land.

About seven minutes into the video, the ranger told House to give the dog to the woman.

“My dog ain’t going anywhere,” House told the ranger and began to walk away from the ranger.

“Stop walking or you may be tased,” the ranger warns House, who kept walking. Standing a short distance from House, the ranger tased House, who fell to ground screaming.

The video cuts off at 9 minutes and 15 seconds.

The NPS says it is investigating the incident. In a news release, NPS said:

“In accordance with National Park Service policy, this incident is under review and was referred to the NPS Office of Professional Responsibility, our internal affairs unit, for a thorough investigation. That investigation will include interviews with the officers, those involved, and any other witnesses who were in the area at the time of the incident. Investigators will also review the video captured by one of the individuals and later posted to social media, as well as the body worn camera footage worn by the NPS law enforcement officer.” 

After the tasing, House was not arrested but received three citations for failing to comply with a lawful order, for providing false information and being in a closed area of the park. His sister received two citations for being in a closed area off-trail and for providing false information.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) issued the following statement on a video showing a park ranger tasing a Native American man in Petroglyph National Monument:

"We are shocked by the video of a National Park Service ranger tasing Darrell House at Petroglyph National Monument on Sunday. We have asked for an immediate investigation into the incident and expect a full accounting of what happened. This landscape is sacred to Tribes and holds deep meaning for the people of New Mexico. Everyone should feel safe and welcome on our public lands."

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, that oversees the U.S. Department of the Interior, sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt today. In the letter Grijalva requests footage from body-worn cameras used by National Park Service (NPS) officers involved in the Dec. 27 Tasering of Darrell House, a Marine Corps veteran and enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and Oneida Nation, at Petroglyph National Monument.

Grijalva requests four pieces of information on the recent incident:

  • All footage recorded by any NPS officer’s body worn camera on Dec. 27 at Petroglyph National Monument;
  • A full explanation for any lack of footage and any gaps in footage recorded by NPS officers’ body worn camera on that date;
  • A fully unredacted version of NPS Reference Manual 9; and
  • Any reports related to the December 27, 2020 incident.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].