TITLE: Supporting Return of the Valles Caldera to the Pueblo of Jemez
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the Pueblo of Jemez has continuously used and occupied its aboriginal lands in the Jemez Mountains, including the area now encompassed by the Valles Caldera National Preserve, for traditional and non-traditional purposes pursuant to the Pueblo’s aboriginal Indian title from time immemorial to the present; and
WHEREAS, in 1860 the United States Congress authorized the heirs of Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca to select lands within New Mexico Territory in settlement of the heirs’ Spanish land grant claim in the vicinity of Las Vegas, New Mexico; and
WHEREAS, the Baca heirs received an American grant title subject to continuing Pueblo of Jemez aboriginal Indian title; and
WHEREAS, the United States and the Pueblo of Santa Clara purchased the 1860 American land grant title to the Baca Location No. 1 from private parties on July 25, 2000 to create the Valles Caldera National Preserve; and
WHEREAS, at all times the lands encompassed by the Valles Caldera National Preserve have remained subject to the valid aboriginal Indian title of the Pueblo of Jemez, which title has never been abandoned or terminated, and the Pueblo of Jemez wants these lands returned to its ownership and control; and
WHEREAS, in July 2012 the Pueblo of Jemez filed a quiet title lawsuit, Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, to quiet its aboriginal Indian title to the Valles Caldera National Preserve, which lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds that it is precluded by the 1946 Indian Claims Commission Act and is now on appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals; and
NCAI 2014 Annual Session Resolution ATL-14-009
WHEREAS, the Pueblo of Jemez agrees that other Pueblos may continue any traditional cultural activities and spiritual uses they have traditionally conducted within the Valles Caldera and will also preserve the Conservation and Access Easement held by Santa Clara Pueblo within the Valles Caldera National Preserve; and
WHEREAS, the United States recently announced its support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Article 26, paragraph 1 of the Declaration states that “[i]ndigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI calls upon the United States as Indian trustee to recognize the Pueblo of Jemez’ continuing aboriginal Indian title to the lands within the Valles Caldera National Preserve and to return ownership and control of these lands to the Pueblo of Jemez but also to ensure that other Pueblos will continue to have access to areas within the Valles Caldera that they have used for traditional cultural purposes, and to maintain the existing Conservation Easement held by Santa Clara Pueblo; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President and Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians are hereby authorized to provide to governmental agencies and governmental officials as appropriate upon request by the Governor of the Pueblo of Jemez letters of support for recovery by the Pueblo of Jemez of the lands encompassed by the Valles Caldera National Preserve; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, October 26-31, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia, with a quorum present.