HCN: Mescalero Apache Nation worried about drilling and mining

"The decade-long tussle over energy development in New Mexico's Otero Mesa has been reinvigorated recently, as hardrock mining claims now threaten the region for the first time.

Adding their voices to those of environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts in the drive for monument status are members of the Mescalero Apache, a tribe that took refuge in the mountains of southern New Mexico in the 18th century and still assert ancestral ties to the mesa. In a letter to their tribal president, the group Mescalero Apache Advocates expressed their spiritual connection to Wind Mountain and to the archaeological artifacts that are among the area's attractions. "And on those massive stones that fell from the mountain top, our people expressed through rock paintings their challenges, their visions, and their stories, like their ancient ancestors who dwelled there before them," they said.

Last month, the Mescaleros met with Department of the Interior and New Mexican officials, expressing concern for the natural resources which they believe drilling and mining endanger, including the huge untapped aquifer underlying Otero, which may be the largest remaining in the state. They worry that the fractured geology that characterizes the area makes that reserve vulnerable to contamination."

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The Range Blog: The monumental fight over Otero Mesa (High Country News 8/17)

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