Just a short trip outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the largest and most significant monuments to be discovered on American land — Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon was an active community between 900 and 1150 AD, where its indigenous population made revolutionary strides in architecture, agriculture and astronomy.

On March 11, 1907, Chaco Canyon became one of the first national monuments to be protected by the U.S. government under the direction of President Theodore Roosevelt. Many members of the Native American community still reside in the area and regard Chaco Canyon as a spiritual place. With the discovery of natural resources in the area that require fracking for extraction, such as natural gas, many residents fear that undiscovered artifacts and unearthed sites may be damaged by the drilling.There are also fears that fracking may lead to the poisoning of natural resources in the area.

Chaco Canyon is protected by a 10-mile radius that is constantly being encroached by new drilling and pumping sites. Only time will tell if the current government is willing to lease off more land for drilling, potentially harming Native Americans’ health and history in the process.

Colton Newman is the photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at photoeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @coltonperson.