Cochiti Pueblo reclaims ancestral land in deal with New Mexico

Cochiti Pueblo Governor Nicholas Garcia, right, and New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn sign the land transfer agreement in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 29, 2016. Photo by New Mexico State Land Office

A New Mexico tribe reclaimed a large swath of its ancestral territory as part of a unique deal with the state.

Cochiti Pueblo first acquired a small but valuable property in Santa Fe. The site was then transferred to the New Mexico State Land Office on Thursday.

In exchange, the tribe secured about 9,000 acres of state-owned land near its reservation. The area is home to sacred sites and has been used for ceremonies and hunting.

"Many have gone on, passed on that weren’t able to see it, but we have young people here, grandparents, parents, hunters and many others," Henry Suina, a former governor of the tribe, said at the land exchange ceremony. "This is for them. This is for all of us. This land is something that we will always have for our people. This is indeed a wonderful day."

The tribe paid more than $8 million for the site in Santa Fe, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The money came from an easement agreement, the paper said.

The tribe has been asking Congress to pass S.2643, the Pueblo de Cochiti Self-Governance Act, in order to finance the purchase of the site. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved the bill in April but it has not advanced further.

Read More on the Story:
‘Heart and soul’ returns to Cochiti Pueblo in land swap with state (The Santa Fe New Mexican 9/30)
Cochiti’s ‘church’ is back in pueblo hands via trade (The Albuquerque Journal 9/30)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves eight bills at meeting (04/28)