Congratulations to Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps on winning a 2023 Project of the Year Award! All awardees will be recognized at #CorpsCon23 – The Corps Network National Conference. This hybrid event will take place March 7 – 9 in Washington, DC, and online. Click here to learn more. Click here to learn about The Corps Network’s awards. Click here to learn about 2023 Project of the Year finalists.
Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps
The Acoma Pueblo Water Delivery project led by Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps is an example of how national service programs can play a critical role in supporting people during a time of need.
Located 60 miles west of Albuquerque, the village of Acoma Pueblo has been occupied by the Acoma people for roughly 2,000 years. It is a place with rich traditions and a strong sense of community.
On October 27, 2022, a water tank broke, creating a major water infrastructure crisis for the village. There was no running water, forcing the health clinic, dialysis center, and schools to close. The lack of running water was especially challenging and dangerous for elderly residents and others who do not have the resources or ability to haul water. Aaron Lowden, former Acoma Program Manager for Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC), sent out the call to help deliver water to those in need. ALCC responded.
For weeks now, ALCC AmeriCorps members have been working with the village to deliver potable water, water containers, solar showers, and other needed resources to support the health and well-being of the community. Crews are serving approximately 20 households, averaging nearly 100 community members daily.
ALCC has supported natural disaster relief efforts in Flagstaff and other communities, but they have not been able to support crises in the communities they regularly serve due to lack of funding. Corps programs often play an important role in disaster relief work across the country, but these deployments are almost always dependent on federal or state funding. In the case of the Acoma Pueblo water crisis, there is no financial support coming from the federal government, state government, or Tribal government. ALCC was able to get financial support from the Conservation Lands Foundation and private donors to fund local crews to deliver water and resources to community members.
This fund development effort is a direct result of the relationships that ALCC has built with the community of Acoma, the Conservation Lands Foundation, and a large network of supporters. ALCC could quickly take action without the red tape and bureaucracy that Tribal leaders often have to navigate. The Corps’ ability to pivot has been hugely beneficial in helping address the water crisis and has helped the Corps gain recognition as a community resource and an opportunity for local young people.
ALCC has had a goal to complete more local work that helps meet the needs of their communities. This project is a prime example of where the community’s needs met with the ability of ALCC crews to act.
“We are facing crises related to climate change, as well as environmental and economic crises. Corps programs are also trying to remain relevant as younger generations seek opportunities to make a difference in the world,” said Chas Robles, Director of ancestral Lands Conservation Corps. “By providing opportunities for young people to create positive change in their communities while addressing these crises, Corps can achieve greater results in ecological protection and community resilience while attracting participants who seek a deep and impactful Corps experience.”
The AmeriCorps members serving on this project have a sense of pride and accomplishment in being able to directly support their own community, including elders and vulnerable community members. This has led to greater sense of self-worth and pride in their work, as well as an increased sense of civic responsibility.
As community members have said:
“THIS is community in action! THIS is ‘walking the walk’ about caring for our community and People. Thank you, young men and women, may you and your program be continually blessed.”
“Da waa ee (thank you) for showing the true meaning of caring about our community and People by actually getting out and doing something to help others!”