A park ranger repeatedly tased an indigenous man for walking off a path in a national park that is known as sacred land to the native people. The incident happened at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The park is home to a variety of ancient petroglyphs that were carved into stone by indigenous people many centuries ago, and is now one of the area’s top tourist attractions.
The victim, Darrell House, says that he was walking off of the path to find a quiet place to pray when he was confronted by the ranger. He said that he was also intending to avoid a large group that was coming down the path ahead of him, which is probably a good idea considering the ongoing pandemic.
House did not immediately give the officer ID when he demanded it.
“I didn’t see a reason to give my identification. I don’t need to tell people why I’m coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don’t need permission or consent, and I don’t think he liked that very much,” House said
The ranger quickly pulled his taser and fired after his commands were not immediately obeyed. House says that his dog was shocked by the taser as well.
“I was holding my dog, so my dog got tased as well, he felt the shock, he felt everything. I ended up dropping him when I fell,” House told KRQE.
Shortly after he was tased, a second ranger arrived on the scene and handcuffed him.
House said that the ranger was abusing his authority to inflate his ego.
“He wanted to show power, dominance, keep me in order. That’s what authority figures are trained to do, to keep people like me in order. To make the ‘Indian’ look crazy, to make them look insane,” House said.
House was given three citations after being attacked by the ranger, the charges include interfering with agency function and resisting, being off the trail, and giving false identity information.
Vanessa Lacayo, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, said in an email that the agency is investigating.
“We take any allegation of wrongdoing very seriously, and appreciate the public’s patience as we gather the facts of this incident,” Lacayo said, according to NBC News.
House believes that native people should have access to their sacred lands without worrying about being assaulted for not showing identification.
“We don’t have a set time, we don’t have set places, we don’t have buildings, and we don’t have things built to worship,” House said. “Nature is what we’ve been worshipping … and protecting it has always been our job.”
“I am Native, you know. I have rights to this land. I have rights off the trail,” he said.
House said that he will go back and continue to pray and meditate at the sacred site.
“I will go back. I am going to continue to do my prayers, going off trail without permission. Without consent. That is my right,” he said.
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