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Looking to the Mountain: Sacred Lands, Healing Cultures

The ABQ BioPark is proud to participate in the Ancestral Gila Homeland Events as we Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in the Gila National Park and the natural and cultural history of the Gila Wilderness: before & beyond.


Mar 08, 2024
12:00 PM - 04:30 PM


ABQ BioPark Botanic Gaden
2601 Central Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104


The year 2024 marks the 100th Anniversary of the designation Gila Wilderness by Aldo Leopold, representing a landmark opportunity to re-affirm and re-imagine our relationships to New Mexico and these remarkable landscapes.

The Greater Gila includes over 1 million wilderness acres and is the sacred living landscape and ancestral homeland for at least 18 different Indigenous peoples. Over 200 rare plants and animal species exist within the Gila Wilderness bioregion (30 of which are listed on the threatened and endangered species list). The Gila Wilderness is home to the major watershed for the region and contains the headwaters for the Little Colorado, San Francisco, Gila, Mimbres, Verde, and Salt Rivers. The Gila Wilderness represents the first and wildest wilderness area in the nation.

This sacred land that has been the homeland of Indigenous peoples for more than two thousand years, represents the birthplace of the “idea” of wilderness that has inspired the preservation of national parks and forests across the nation. During his service in New Mexico, U.S. Forest field agent Aldo Leopold was also instrumental in the formation of other New Mexico open spaces including the ABQ BioPark and the Rio Grande Nature Center.

“Looking to the Mountains: Sacred Lands, Healing Cultures” provides an opportunity for all ages to celebrate the natural and cultural history of New Mexico through music, poetry, art, and educational activities sponsored by the University of New Mexico and hosted by the ABQ BioPark.

For further information about the Ancestral Gila Homeland Project and Events see:

Gila Wilderness Centennial Digital Hub


Ceremonial Garden

  • 12:00-1:00; Readings by Albuquerque Poet Laureate Michelle Otero and NM State Poet Laureate Levi Romero; New Mexico Poetry Anthology, Museum of New Mexico Press (2023). 


  • 1:00-1:15; Welcome & Greeting by ABQ BioPark Team Members (Clayton Meredith); ABQ BioPark Land Acknowledgments: Frank Aviles (Lipan Apache); Sponsor Acknowledgments: Diego Lucero, City of Albuquerque


  • 1:15-1:30; Land Blessing with Dr. Cheo Torres and Dr. Mario del Angel Guevarra, UNM Chicano Studies


  • 1:30-1:50; UNM Danza Group directed by Jorge Garcia, UNM Chicana & Chicano Studies


  • 2:00-2:20; Music by UNM Chicana & Chicano Studies Son Jarocho Group

Rose Garden Atrium

  • 3:00-4:30; Nature Photography Exhibit at Rose Garden Atrium Conference Room by Stephanie Neito.


  • 3:00-3:15 Water Blessing (Healing Ceremony). Gabino Noreiga (UNM Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies)


  • 3:15-4:15; Talking Circle “Land is Medicine” Facilitated by Roseanne Rosenthal, University of California, Riverside Roseanne Rosenthal (Tewa & Apache ‘iyanet’eesh Ch’ogaat)


  • All day 
    • PoetTree & NM State Library Nature Activity Book Table (Southwest Environmental Education Cooperative);
    • Seed Ball Activity Table (ABQ BioPark)
    • Burl Oak Potting Table (U.S. Forest Service)
    • Indigenous Farming Activity Table (Cotton Blossom Gardens, Isleta Pueblo)
    • New Mexico Poetry Anthology Book Signing Table (Office of NM State Poet Laureate)
    • U.S. Forest Service & New Mexico State Forestry Department Tree Planting Activity Table
    • NM Poetry Anthology Book Table (hosted by ABQ BioPark Foundation/Gift Store for the Museum of New Mexico Press)


Full list of events:



Included with regular BioPark admission.
Looking to the Mountain: Sacred Lands, Healing Cultures

Gila Ancestral Homelands logo


ABQ BioPark