|Tribe pays $23 million; cites “great victory” to be near sacred historic sites
Last Friday, October 27, the Navajo Nation announced that it had closed on their purchase of 16,350 acres of Wolf Springs Ranch, which straddles Custer and Huerfano counties.
This acreage is roughly the northern half of the ranch, the southern half having previously been sold in late September to Crystal Watts and David Watts, with an easement agreement with Bourne, Texas based MBOGO Energy, LLC. According to KOAA-TV and Associated Press, the purchase price for this northern portion was $23 million. Ron Morris, broker and founding partner of Ranch Marketing Associates, had been the listing agent for the property.
The land is in close proximity to the Navajo sacred mountain of Tsisnaasjini’, also known as Blanca Peak. The Nation will change the name of the ranch to Ma ’iitsoh Bito’, which is the Navajo translation of Wolf Springs.
The present-day Wolf Springs Ranch was patched together about a quarter century ago by shampoo magnate Tom Redmond who created and later sold the Aussie Shampoo firm. Redmond currently lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye states that the Nation “has realized the potential to expand our landmass to include aboriginal land located in Colorado, a state that our boundaries don’t currently extend to. We know that our ancestors lived in this area and we look upon Tsisnaasjini’ with great reverence. This purchase is in essence a great victory for the Navajo Nation.”
The purchase, guided by a resolution that requires the Nation’s Office of President and Vice President to have a plan in place regarding the usage of the property, includes approximately 200 head of cattle and over 300 head of bison. The purchase was made possible by the Nation’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which will also be used to pay for the yearly property taxes. According to Custer County Assessor J.D. Henrich, most of the acreage of the Navajo Nation purchase is in Huerfano County; the Custer County portion is 4300 acres of bare agricultural land with no buildings. Last year it was taxed at $1,251.31.
Commenting on the Nation’s expansion of land capital beyond the traditional reservation boundary, Vice President Johnathan Nez says “The purchase of the Wolf Springs Ranch is an example of the Navajo Nation investing in its future…The property is a great asset to the tribe. It’s time for the Navajo nation to take back its aboriginal land, even if we have to purchase it.”
As reported earlier in the Tribune, the Navajo Nation had also considered the purchase of the adjoining Boyer Ranch in Custer County. As of press time, the 12,505 acre Boyer Ranch is still listed as “available” by Ranch Marketing Associates for $8 million.
– W.A. Ewing