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“Things are never, ever going to be the same.”

Community Representative, Counselor Chapter

“[Greater Chaco] is where I was born and raised, my family is here and I enjoy being here. It’s just home to me.”

“I lived in Counselor, my grandparents have lived here, and my parents lived here too, all their lives. So I stayed. I have family, I have extended family out here and I just love being with my elders, because sometimes there’s nobody to help them.”

“There’s a lot of changes. Now they’re doing water lines in the homes, we’ve got water in most of the homes, we’ve got electricity. And then there are a lot of changes within the environment. You know, the land, there are roads everywhere, they’ve disturbed every place. Now they’ve got oil fields, wells everywhere… We used to have what we called trading posts where you went and bought everything. But now it’s just convenience stores, where there’s more junk food.”

“We used to go up on the mesas and find small pottery and we were told to leave it, you know, not take it back, and they would consider it sacred. And just in the little hills here, mesas, it’s just the whole place being destroyed… Even down in this canyon you can find petroglyphs. And [the oil companies] tell us we’re trespassing. This is our home, I say, how dare you tell us we’re trespassing?

“You don’t have the freedom to go where you want to go anymore… You’re afraid just to be out there, you know, because of the unknowns. [Oil workers] come in from other states, they’re employed here, and we don’t know them. They’re out in the area. You have to be very careful where you go, what you do. It’s not safe anymore.”

“It’s sad to see them disturbing the land… Even with herb gatherings, for medicine. Our elders would say that once it’s disturbed, it moves. I find it true, you can’t find a lot of [herbs] anymore. They’re not where they used to be… Even though they told us that they weren’t going to disturb those areas, they have.”

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“Lately I’ve seen people with breathing problems. There may be two or three in a household, and I’ve questioned the doctors. There’s more cancer coming up, whereas before we didn’t have all that. Then there are all these impacts emotionally… [Money] really impacts. It’s powerful. It has separated families. That’s how I hear it, how I see it, everyday as I go out in to the homes. I don’t have an answer, I sit and listen, that’s all I can do.”

“They’re not worried about our wellbeing, what our kids are facing, what chemicals they are using now. And they deny they are using any chemicals. But, you know, some of us are educated and some of us do know that chemicals cause illness.”

Once our community was a healthy and a happy place to be. But now, we see all that they’ve destroyed, what we have here. They can come in, just for a short period, and they leave, but we’re the ones that are left with all the disturbed land. They’ve taken part of us with them. They’ve torn families apart and all they worry about is their money, you know?”

“We were raised to believe that mother earth, that we need to have respect for it, that it’s our mother, and we need to take care of it. And yet, they’ve destroyed it. They took so much out of it. It’s like we’re trying to mend what they left, what they’ve done to destroy us.

“To try to help my people I do a monthly community get-together. We call it a community meal. Just to give people hope … We encourage them to talk about their situation. But if they just want to be there, [they can be]. As I said, it has really separated families, torn families apart. So it’s just trying to give some hope and healing to the community.”

Things are never, ever going to be the same. What’s destroyed is destroyed, what’s done is done, but I pray and hope that it’s going to bring our community together, even our young people… I know that things are changing, every year, as time goes on. But there’s no way it’s ever going to be the same again.”

Will you add your voice?

Demand cancellation of the March 2018 oil and gas lease sale, and all future sales, in Greater Chaco until proper protections for the people, environment, and cultural resources are put in place.

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