SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on American Indian affairs at the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A panel of New Mexico lawmakers wants the federal government to consult with the Navajo Nation before allowing more natural gas production in the area surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A Senate committee on Friday endorsed a nonbinding state memorial that also urges the Bureau of Land Management not to allow hydraulic fracturing within 10 miles of the Chaco archaeological site.

Pre-colonial ruins at Chaco Canyon are a popular tourist attraction and hold ancestral and spiritual significance for some Native Americans. An upcoming sale of drilling rights by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is stoking tensions about gas development in the area.

Navajo President Russell Begaye testified in support of the measure and cautioned that restrictions beyond a 10 mile radius of Chaco could infringe on income opportunities for Navajo families.

Memorial sponsor and Sen. George Munoz of Gallup says he expects to see a companion federal measure proposed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.


2:00 p.m.

New Mexico officials are marking the 15th anniversary of the state’s Indian Education Act that was designed to provide equitable access to public education and help maintain indigenous languages.

Sponsors of the 2003 legislation visited the state Capitol on Friday talk about its impact. A pending lawsuit accuses the state of not following through with the reforms.

Navajo Nation Delegate and former state Sen. Leonard Tsosie says the act was a call to action that has given Native American parents and tribes a greater say in their childrens’ education.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Education Latifah Phillips says the Public Education Department strives to be responsive and respectful of tribal interests as it develops indigenous language programs.

She said high school history classes across the state are weaving in more information about pueblo, Apache and Navajo tribes starting this summer. About one in 10 New Mexico residents identify themselves as Native American.

An upcoming lease sale by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is stoking


3:00 a.m.

American Indian tribal leaders are converging on the New Mexico Statehouse for an annual celebration of indigenous communities and culture.

Amid Friday’s festivities, a state Senate panel is scheduled to hear testimony about oil and natural gas development in the vicinity of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and legislative efforts to ensure local tribes are consulted before federal mineral leases are issued.

An upcoming lease sale by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is stoking a long-running dispute over management of vast expanses of land surrounding Chaco park and its admired pre-colonial structures.

The state also is marking the 15th anniversary of laws designed to provide equitable access to public education and maintain indigenous languages. A pending lawsuit accuses the state of not following through with the reforms.