Sandia Pueblo faces fire over ban on balloons during big event

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place October 1-9, 2016, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo from Facebook

Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico is facing criticism over restrictions on balloons during an upcoming event.

The tribe is a sponsor of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. But its leaders don't want balloons landing on the reservation and they want balloons to maintain a height of at least 200 feet when they fly over the reservation, according to news reports.

The requirements have organizers concerned that some balloons and some visitors may skip the popular event, which takes place October 1-9. A meeting took place on Monday, according to news reports, and while a clear resolution wasn't reached, tribal leaders are promising more by the end of the week.

Others, meanwhile, are calling for a boycott of the tribe and its businesses. But Mike Guthrie, who started a Facebook group in response to the restrictions, said he was optimistic that talks would be successful.

"If the negotiations go well between the balloon fiesta board and the tribe I would like nothing better than to shut this page down. If they do the right thing I will go straight to the casino myself," Guthrie wrote on Monday. "It was not my intent to harm anyone but the restrictions seemed extremely unfair and the timing was very suspicious."

Sandia Pueblo is located adjacent to the event site and the tribe rents some of its land to organizers for use as parking, The Albuquerque Journal reported. The Sandia Resort & Casino is one of the official sponsors of the festival.

Read More on the Story:
No change in Sandia Pueblo balloon ban (The Albuquerque Journal 9/13)
Sandia Pueblo, Balloon Fiesta leaders aim for Fiesta landing solution (KOAT 9/12)
Sandia Pueblo balloon landing ban leads to backlash (KRQE 9/12)
Fiesta balloons banned from landing on Sandia Pueblo (KRQE 9/11)

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