I want to applaud President Obama for taking steps to protect our unique Southwest heritage. The designation of Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado was great recognition that some places are so important to our shared history that they deserve to be protected for all time.

 Chimney Rock is of great importance to Native Americans tribes. With its twin sandstone pillars and massive Chaco-style masonry walls, the monument protects a landscape important to the continuation of traditional cultural practices of the modern Puebloan Indians.

This designation shows us how important it is to protect what’s important to us.

The Río Grande del Norte area has been home to human inhabitants for more than 11,000 years. This area has a rich history which is also worthy of protection.

As with our Taos Pueblo people and Pueblo Native Americans that preceded them, Hispano culture and presence in New Mexico has always been closely connected to Río Grande del Norte’s dramatic landscape. There has been an effort to protect Río Grande del Norte which is supported by local business owners, sportsmen, ranchers, land grant leaders, elected officials and others.

I hope that as people see the benefit of protecting Chimney Rock that we will soon see a renewed effort to preserve our natural and cultural heritage by protecting Río Grande del Norte.

Erminio Martínez is a resident from El Salto.

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