On January 24, the Fort Sill Apache tribe issued a resolution of support for the establishment of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument located in tribe’s aboriginal homeland.
In accord with Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., the Fort Sill Apache tribe fully supports the permanent protection of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks with a national monument designation.
The senators hosted a public hearing January 24 with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Las Cruces, New Mexico near the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks monument to hear public comments about the proposal.
In December 2013, the Senators introduced legislation to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to conserve, protect and enhance scenic, recreational and culturally significant land, according to Senator Heinrich’s office.
The Fort Sill Apache, descendants of the Warm Springs and Chiricahua Apache people, resided in Southwest New Mexico, occupying territory that included the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region before settlement by Europeans and Americans.
“As the people of this land we strongly believe that this region should be permanently protected to preserve valuable tribal cultural resources that originated on these territories,” said Tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous. “National monument designation would allow our children and future generations the opportunity to understand and appreciate the bounty and beauty of their cultural heritage and aboriginal homelands,” added Haozous.
In addition to protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, the Tribe desires to participate in the management of the monument based on their cultural, historical and modern day connection with the former tribal lands.