Protecting the ancient landscape of Chaco Canyon -

Protecting the ancient landscape of Chaco Canyon


Today’s Video of the Day from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln describes efforts to preserve the Chaco Canyon area of New Mexico, which is home to the 1,500-year-old ruins of a once thriving culture.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to ancient great houses built more than 1,000 years ago. Land surrounding the park has recently become a target for oil and gas drilling, raising concerns about how energy development may impact the cultural and natural resources in Chaco Canyon.

“It’s a sacred ancestral site for many, if not all, of the Indigenous descendant communities in the region,” said Professor Carrie Heitman. “With funding, conversation and dialogue with the National Park Service, we developed a research plan that would help address some of those concerns by trying to get better information into the hands of the land managers who are managing those parcels of land right around Chaco.” 

“Our initial goal was to help them understand what we know about these ancestral and ancient places, and what we still don’t yet know.”

“We were afraid that in the process of leasing for oil and gas extraction, they will be destroying resources that we haven’t even documented yet.”

In an effort to share these concerns and help protect the ancient land of Chaco Canyon, Professor Heitman has co-edited a new book “The Greater Chaco Landscape: Ancestors, Scholarship and Advocacy” with Professor Ruth Van Dyke of Binghamton University in New York.

“We’re bringing together multiple perspectives on a complicated landscape that has both contemporary and ancient issues,” Heitman said. “We’re trying to share those perspectives and the concerns from this diverse range of stakeholders to help protect this landscape moving forward.”

Video Produced by Mary Jane Bruce, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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