New Mexico tribe loses claim to national preserve

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected an effort by a Native American tribe to reclaim Valles Caldera National Preserve.

U.S. District Judge James Browning issued a sealed opinion denying Jemez Pueblo’s claim that its aboriginal property rights were never extinguished. He found that the federal government had clear title to the land.

The ruling came Aug. 31 following a trial held last year in Albuquerque.

Tribal officials and their attorneys could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear if they plan to appeal.

Valles Calderas is home to vast grasslands, the remnants of one of North America’s few super volcanoes and one of New Mexico’s most famous elk herds.

The pueblo considers the nearly 140-square-mile (362.6-square kilometer) swath of federally managed public land as a spiritual sanctuary and part of its traditional homeland.

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