Pueblo of Sandia v. United States

50 F.3d 856 (1995)

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Pueblo of Sandia v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
50 F.3d 856 (1995)

  • Written by Jody Stuart, JD

Facts

Las Huertas Canyon was located within the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico and was under the supervision of the National Forest Service (forest service). The Pueblo of Sandia (Sandia) (plaintiff) reservation was near the canyon. Sandia tribal members visited the canyon to gather tree branches for use in cultural ceremonies and herbs and plants used in traditional healing practices. The canyon also contained shrines and ceremonial paths that were culturally significant to Sandia. In 1990, the forest service concluded that the canyon was not eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). After consultation with the forest service, the state historic-preservation officer (SHPO) concurred with the forest service’s conclusion regarding the canyon’s NRHP eligibility. The forest service then adopted a new management strategy for the canyon that required road reconstruction and an expansion of picnic grounds. Sandia had concerns that the strategy would adversely affect traditional cultural properties in the canyon by encouraging increased traffic and visitors to the area. Sandia brought suit in federal district court against the United States (defendant), alleging that the forest service did not comply with § 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (act). Sandia asserted that the canyon qualified as a traditional cultural property eligible for the NRHP. The district court granted summary judgment for the United States. Sandia appealed. Subsequently, upon receiving relevant documents from the forest service that had previously been withheld, the SHPO withdrew his concurrence. The forest service did not provide the relevant documents until after the consultation with the SHPO was completed and the SHPO had concurred with the forest service’s conclusion. The SHPO expressed concern that having not received the documents previously had affected his ability to consult appropriately under § 106.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Seymour, C.J.)

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