Leaders of Jemez Pueblo in northern New Mexico are seeking the return of all land within the boundaries of the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve, citing the area as a "spiritual sanctuary" and part of their traditional homeland.
Jemez Pueblo filed a lawsuit in federal court last summer to establish its aboriginal right to ownership of the property, and the pueblo has gained the support of tribes throughout New Mexico.
The lawsuit describes the preserve as the "Jemez Holy Land."
Albuquerque attorney Tom Luebben told The Associated Press that he believes this is the first time a tribe has sued the federal government under the Quiet Title Act to recover unlawfully appropriated Indian title lands.
The U.S. attorney's office is expected to file the government's response in federal court next month.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.