On December 17th, members of the Caja del Rio coalition were proud to bring community members together for a special film screening and panel discussion on ways to better project this cherished landscape. 

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 125 people packed the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe to give audience members, and those unfamiliar with the vast biodiversity of the land, an up-close and personal view of the Caja del Rio. 

The event started by debuting a special five-minute video, “Saving Caja,” which you can watch here:

Immediately following the film, Governor Phillip Quintana of Cochiti Pueblo provided a blessing for the audience that set the tone for the in-depth conversation among community members.

During the event, moderator Garrett VeneKlasen of New Mexico Wild, led a discussion of community members who spoke of their deep and unwavering connection to the land and offered personal stories that demonstrate the importance of why we must protect the Caja.

We were honored by the attendance of three Pueblo governors, Tribal leaders, and additional panelists who included: 

  • Andrew Black of EarthKeepers 360 and the National Wildlife Federation
  • Renee Villarreal, City of Santa Fe Councilwoman
  • Reyes DeVore of Pueblo Action Alliance & Jemez Pueblo
  • Alex Merlino from Partnership for Responsible Business
  • JJ Gonzales, a La Cienega Community Leader
  • Max Trujillo from HECHO

Over the past year, the Caja has experienced an increase in vandalism, illegal dumping, and multiple accounts of defacement to ancient petroglyphs that hold deep cultural value to Native communities. 

Despite the coalition’s efforts to host community clean-ups to remove the heaps of debris and demands for BLM to enforce the law to those caught vandalizing archaeological sites, there’s no better phrase that comes to mind other than “it takes a village.” 

We hope this event is just the beginning of more community gatherings to come in 2023 and beyond as we work to grow the coalition and permanently protect the Caja del Rio.

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