Historic Co-stewardship Agreement Signed Between Ohkay Owingeh Tribe, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management


Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Forest Service; Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo

BLM Office:

Taos Field Office

Media Contact:

Photo of Signing Ceremony between BLM, USFS, and Ohkay Owingeh

SANTA FE, N.M. — Leadership from the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office, and Ohkay Owingeh Governor Larry Phillips, Jr. signed a Memorandum of Understanding to co-steward culturally significant tribal places located within these federal land management areas.

In 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack signed Joint Secretarial Order 3403 to ensure agencies manage federal lands and waters in a manner that seeks to protect the treaty, religious, subsistence and cultural interests of federally recognized Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian communities. The order requires that such management be consistent with the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and federally recognized Indian Tribes and that such management fulfills the United States’ unique trust obligation to federally recognized Indian Tribes and their citizens. In managing federal lands that include Pueblo Cultural Resources, “the Departments are charged with the highest trust responsibility to protect Tribal interests and further the nation-to-nation relationship.” 

In this historic agreement, the two federal agencies which signed the original 2021 Joint Secretarial Order came together with a sovereign Tribal Nation to develop a framework to collaboratively implement the order to ensure protection, preservation, and access to culturally significant Pueblo sites within the boundaries of land managed by the federal agencies.

Ohkay Owingeh Governor Larry Phillips, Jr. remarked, “Ohkay Owingeh is pleased to collaborate with the Forest Service and the BLM in this MOU to protect important cultural places on federal land. Protecting these places is one of our highest priorities. We look forward to working with the agencies in co-stewardship, future management and maintaining the integrity and sanctity of these places.”   

In a joint statement, Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor Shaun Sanchez and Carson National Forest Acting Supervisor Jack Lewis said, “The Forest Service is honored to have worked collaboratively with Ohkay Owingeh these last five months to get to this historic agreement. We are confident this will serve as a national co-stewardship model for other federal land management agencies and federally recognized tribes who have mutual protection and preservation goals.”

“The Taos Field Office of the BLM has a long history of working together with Ohkay Owingeh on several land management projects. It is our pleasure to take our collective good work to the next level to explore actual co-stewardship opportunities,” said BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.