58 sow, community engagement, culture
Tribal leaders and New Mexico Congressional members meet with 58th Special Operations Wing leadership to continue mutual relationships in support of the shared cultural interest at Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. The trip marked the first leadership visit from Kirtland Air Force Base to the preserve. Photo by Senior Airman Kiana Pearson / U.S. Air Force
58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
DOD DVIDS

JEMEZ SPRINGS, New Mexico — U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, alongside Chief Master Sgt. Tom Pilla, 58th SOW command chief, were welcomed for a tour of Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. They visited the caldera as an outreach effort to sustain flight training while protecting tribal communities.

“It’s a sincere privilege and honor to welcome Col. Curry here to have an opportunity to showcase one of the premier public lands in New Mexico,” said Jorge-Silva Bañuelos, Valles Caldera National Preserve superintendent. “There is important airspace that passes a corner of the preserve.”

Valles Caldera is an 88,900-acre preserve located in the north-central region of New Mexico.

“It was a pleasure to visit the caldera to learn about the rich historical, cultural and ecological significance of the area,” said Curry. “It provides excellent flying training opportunities to prepare our Airmen for missions around the world.”

58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding
58th Special Operations Wing leadership were welcomed by tribal leadership to Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. Valles Caldera was created by a volcanic eruption and has ties to numerous American Indian tribes and pueblos. The visit emphasized the mutual understanding of cultural interests of the sacred land. Photo by Senior Airman Kiana Pearson / U.S. Air Force

58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding
Jorge-Silva Bañuelos, Valles Caldera National Preserve superintendent, describes to U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, different areas of the preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. They toured the Sulphur Springs area to observe the unique land that encompasses the preserve. Photo by Senior Airman Kiana Pearson / U.S. Air Force

58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding
Kimberly DeVall, Valles Caldera National Preserve chief of interpretation, with James “Jamie” Mar, chief ranger, point out distinct areas of topography of the caldera at Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. The 58th Special Operations Wing leadership were welcomed to the caldera as part of an outreach initiative. Photo by Senior Airman Kiana Pearson / U.S. Air Force

58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding
Jorge-Silva Bañuelos, Valles Caldera National Preserve superintendent, speaks to U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, during a visit to the preserve on Sept. 14, 2020, about mutual land interests as the airspace above the caldera is used for flight training. Photo by Senior Airman Kiana Pearson / U.S. Air Force

The Air Force has a priority to continue promoting long-standing relationships with neighboring tribal communities. The interactions with these communities encourage opportunities to learn from each other.

According to Bañuelos, Valles Caldera is a sacred place for many tribes. There are more than 35 tribes with significant traditional associations with the caldera.

Curry looks forward to the continued collaboration with Bañuelos and the preserve, emphasizing the important responsibility to be good partners and stewards of the resources at Valles Caldera.


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