The idea of protecting and celebrating one of our area's most revered and certainly most recognized landmarks, the Shiprock pinnacle, is a wonderful idea and worthy of doing so by establishing it as a state park.

Such action would help ensure several things to protect and enhance cultural knowledge of the sacred rock.

Further, a state park could provide much-needed economic benefits to the Shiprock area and the Four Corners overall.

A special state committee from the New Mexico Legislature thought enough of the idea to make a visit to the base of the pinnacle earlier this week.

Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, introduced a bill calling for a feasibility study on the proposed park, and he, along with Sen. John Pinto, D-Tohatchi, talked with the visitors about why making the area a protected park might be a good idea.

There is opposition.

There are American Indians, namely among the Navajo to whom the rock is sacred, who feel the idea of a park and bringing outsiders to the cherished ground could be harmful and insensitive.

Others oppose it because they want a bigger, grander park, such as a park listed in the National Park system.

Opponents also include taxpayers who do not support the project and the expenses associated with it.

However, there are strong arguments to counter all of those opinions.

Establishing a park would mean establishing a better security watchdog role for an area that may be sacred, but that already suffers vandalism and a problem with alcohol and parties on the premises.


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Establishing an economic benefit not only would help the area around Shiprock, but perhaps also taxpayers in the long run if the investment led to more jobs and other provisions. It could make infrastructure improvements more practical and provide a regional economic boost if the park became a stronger lure for tourists curious about all of the Four Corners region.

The more lures to this area, the more likely visitors will come.

Making it a state park instead of a national park, meanwhile, seems more practical. It takes years to get federal approval and support to turn any monument or scenic location into a national park, and frankly, it doesn't happen all that often. But establishing a state park in partnership with the Navajo Nation certainly is within reach.

Perhaps most importantly, its cultural significance becomes much more far-reaching if the landmark is established as a park.

The Navajo Nation already values the rock and understands its meaning, but most of the outside world does not.

Turning the Shiprock pinnacle into a state park would assure that visitors would have the opportunity to learn more not only about the landmark itself, but also about Navajo culture in general.

Pride and understanding of that culture thus would be extended in a positive way.

Establishing a state park in Shiprock is a good idea, and the New Mexico Legislature and the Navajo Nation would be wise to move in that direction.