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Navajo Nation criticizes Chaco decision

Eric Draper
AP Photo

Navajo Nation officials criticized the U.S. Department of the Interior for protecting a swath of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico from new oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the protection for Chaco Culture National History Park on the Navajo Nation Friday.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren and Speaker Crystalyne Curley criticized the decision in a statement, saying it undermines the tribe’s sovereignty.

Nygren says the tribe wanted a five-mile area protected, while Haaland created a 10-mile buffer, which he says impacts thousands of Navajo Nation allotment owners.

He’s called on the Biden administration to reverse the decision.