The Picuris Pueblo, which received a grant from Lannan Foundation for legal expenses, announced that it has filed an aboriginal title claim in order to stop destruction of a sensitive cultural site by industrial mica mining companies.
The Pueblo, located in northern New Mexico, is fighting to protect the tribe’s clay resources which tribal members use for cultural and spiritual purposes. The clay is located on aboriginal lands now in the hands of the U.S. Forest Service. While the tribe has never ceded its lands, the U.S. government is permitting a Cleveland-based minerals and mining company to extract the clay for industrial purposes. The tribe fears their precious clay resources will soon be depleted, and that mining activities threaten the community’s air and water quality.
The aboriginal title claim was filed in New Mexico state court.