In November, under a high sky in northwestern New Mexico, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stepped proudly to the podium against a backdrop of sandstone bluffs. She was flanked by Pueblo leaders who had gathered that day to commemorate the recently announced protections for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where ancestral Puebloans created a sprawling center of trade and culture from the tawny-colored rock more than a thousand years ago.
“It is not difficult to imagine centuries ago children running around the open space, people moving in and out of doorways, bringing in their harvest or preparing food for seasons to come,” Haaland said of the Chaco complex, where multi-story ruins rise from the floor of a wide canyon. “We’re here because President Biden and I heard your voices and are taking important steps to take care of our land, our air, and our water.”