By Antoinette Reyes, Southern NM organizer
From March 24th through April 2nd, I joined the Carrizozo Comecrudo tribe in their bridge to the Ancestors Walk / run across Texas, which the tribe hosted to bring attention to the impacts of oil and gas extraction on people, sacred indigenous sites, communities and our landscapes as a whole.
I came to the walk as an advocate on the New Mexico Permian Basin, whose fossil fuels run through the pipelines that impact so many. On the walk, not only did I get to meet amazing, passionate people; I also was given the opportunity to learn first-hand how oil and gas stemming from the Permian Basin is threatening the Carrizozo Comecrudo Tribe’s sacred sites, in addition to several communities.
We began the trek near Midland and Odessa. Many of the runners had a hard time adjusting to this dry, hot barren landscape full of pollution. Many of them ended up wheezing, and we had to buy oxygen to continue the run. It was unsettling, to say the least, that there was not a single bird in the sky, nor did we hear any for many many miles to come. Days later, many counties away, we finally began to see some wildlife.
I was honored to get the opportunity to hear indigenous songs as I carefully listened to the Tribes’ explanation of a phenomenon known as the Marfa Lights. We met with community members along the way. The buildout of oil and gas infrastructure from pipelines to compressor stations to LNG export terminals seemed to be endless as we crossed the state. I could see oil and gas flares in the distance. They were not only in the oil and gas drilling fields but also further downstream throughout the supply chain.
Despite the haze and destruction, there was beauty in the landscapes that have not yet been destroyed and in seeing where the Pecos River meets the Rio Grande to the habitat threatened by Space X at Boca Chica Beach near the location the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way we visited the ghost town of Terlingua, the national butterfly center, Eli Jackson cemetery, Boca Chica beach, South Padre Island, and powerful art installations in Laredo a and another in Brownsville which highlighted biodiversity and climate change. There is so much that I wish to share, but it could not be better said by anyone other than the tribe that allowed me to tag along:. We are not protestors, we are protectors!
To learn more about this journey and some of the sites along the way, please visit bridgetotheancestors.org