The Las Conchas fire has already charred nearly 25 percent of the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation and its destruction includes acres occupied by sacred Native sites in the Santa Clara Canyon, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Santa Clara Pueblo Gov. Walter Dasheno talked about the pain the fire has already cost the tribe.
Firefighters have so far been able to protect some of the ancient Puye Cliff Dwellings, a national historic landmark. The tribe left the dwellings in the 14th century to settle in their current location.
When officials attempted to survey damage in the rest of the canyon in recent days, they were stymied by thick smoke, Dasheno said.
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“We cry because what our forefathers were able to take care [of] for us is being destroyed by fire,” he said. “With Mother Nature, we can never control what she can or can’t do.”
Crews made progress to contain the fire this weekend but it is not yet under control and could burn more sacred sites across the reservation. The Times reported these numbers on Friday:
At the Bandelier National Monument, nearly 1,300 of the 3,000 sites atop the Pajarito Plateau held sacred by area tribes have been affected by the fire, said park superintendent Jason Lott. The sites include pueblo dwellings, man-made caves and farming areas, some 10,000 years old.
On Saturday, more than 1,600 firefighters battled the blaze, which was 6 percent contained and has charred about 113,700 acres total.
An update on the fire on Outdoor magazine’s website provided an update from the pueblo’s lieutenant governor.