SOC: Taos Pueblo (United states of America)
VII.56 Taos Pueblo (United states of America)
The Bureau, at its twentieth session, was informed that a preliminary monitoring report from the United States National Park Service indicated that no agreement had been reached as yet between the Federal Aviation Administration, the Taos Pueblo and the National Park Service on the definition of the geographic area of potential impacts and on the contents of the Environmental Impact Statement. As to the recommendations made by the Committee at its nineteenth session regarding the involvement of ICOMOS and IUCN in the definition of the Impact Statement area, as well as a possible extension of the site, the report indicated that these will have to move forward in full consultation with the Pueblo, which is self-governing.
The Committee noted that no further information had been received from the Government of the United States regarding the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed airport extension and the possible extension of the World Heritage site.
The Delegate of the United States informed the Committee that it regretted the delay in this matter. She visited the site only recently at the invitation of the Governor of the Pueblo and the War Chief who detailed the potential and existing aeroplane flight patterns over the Pueblo lands. The major concern of the Pueblo is that the future overflights might infringe upon the privacy and sanctimony of their religious ceremonies which are an integral part of their culture. Furthermore, she informed the Committee that she toured the airport and met with the airport manager who informed her that a cross runway is essential to air safety. In addition, because there is no airport tower and therefore no communication with incoming pilots, the airport cannot advise incoming flights of routes that do not cross Pueblo lands. The Department of the Interior had raised and will continue to raise the issue with the Federal Aviation Authority. At present there are no funds available to build the cross runway.
In a related matter, the Delegate informed that in November 1996 the President of the United States had signed into law a bill that transfers from federal ownership to the Taos Peublo a piece of land they consider sacred land. The Committee took note of this information.