July, 2022

08Jul2:00 pm5:00 pmRemembering the Return of Blue Lake

Archival image of President Nixon in the Oval Office surrounded by Taos Pueblo delegates and others at the formal bill signing.

Event Details

On July 8, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon announced support for H.R. 471 as the first element of his new Indian Policy. Passed with bipartisan support in the United States Congress, Nixon signed the bill in to Public Law 91-550 on December 15, 1970, ending a 64-year struggle by Taos Pueblo for return of lands vital to their culture and way of life. The legislative battle waged by Taos Pueblo symbolized a success and justice in the Native American struggle for religious freedom and protection of sacred lands.

Join us for a virtual event featuring a panel of speakers involved in the fight, who will share their personal stories and remembrances. This discussion brings together different perspectives from Taos Pueblo, the United States Congress, the White House, and the larger community of Indigenous rights activists and legal advocates. Registration is required for this event: https://bit.ly/BlueLakePanel

This program is a collaboration between the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Pueblo Tribal Government, and the Blue Lake Commemoration Team. Delayed multiple times for circumstances beyond control, we are delighted to once again offer this virtual event in belated support of the past exhibition, Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Return of Blue Lake: A New Day for American Indians.

Panel Bios

Mr. Gilbert Suazo, Sr. (moderator), a Taos Pueblo tribal member, served as Governor in 2007 and 2018, and is a lifetime Tribal Council member. In the 1960s Gilbert, as a member of the younger generation, actively supported the tribe’s efforts for the return of Blue Lake. He testified at the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearings about Blue Lake in 1970 and participated as part of the Taos Pueblo delegation in the historic July 8, 1970 White House meeting when President Richard Nixon pledged his support to return Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo.

Sen. Fred Harris, who served as a U. S. Senator from Oklahoma (1964-1973), was the leader of successful Senate efforts to pass the landmark Taos Pueblo Blue Lake legislation. Now Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of New Mexico and a widely published author, he continues to teach in the UNM Fred Harris Congressional Internship Program.

Ms. LaDonna Harris, an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation, is founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity (www.aio.org). As a national leader, Harris has influenced the agendas of the civil rights, feminist, environmental, and world peace movements. She was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition and is an ardent spokesperson against poverty and for social injustice.

Ms. Bobbie Greene Kilberg is President and CEO Emeritus of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and presently serves as Strategic Advisor to the Council. Kilberg served as a White House Fellow on the staff of President Nixon’s Domestic Policy Council and was instrumental in coordinating the White House’s support of Taos Pueblo’s Blue Lake legislation. She visited Taos Pueblo during the crucial final days of pending congressional action on the legislation and even rode on horseback to visit Blue Lake with Pueblo and other White House representatives.

Mr. Jerry Straus is an attorney in Washington, DC representing Indian Tribes for more than 57 years. In 1963, he was hired by Wilkingson, Cragun, and Barker, one of the few firms which then practiced Indian law in the District of Columbia. A notable highlight of Jerry’s career was his work in 1970 assisting Taos Pueblo in its successful effort to have Congress return its 48,000-acre sacred Blue Lake lands to them. This was the first time that such a large piece of land wrongfully taken by the United States was restored to the tribe.

Image credit: President Richard Nixon Signing H.R. 471 Blue Lake Bill Taos-Pueblo American Indian Land Deed. Governor Quirino Romero, Cacique Juan de Jesus Romero and Paul Bernal Witnessing, December 15, 1970 

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Time

(Friday) 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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