Navajo Nation Buys Ranches Near Base of Sacred Blanca Peak
The two ranches together sold for $31 million
The flag of the Navajo Nation has four mountains, one of which is white. It represents Blanca Peak, Colorado’s third highest mountain, located in the Sangre de Cristo Range.
In two recent purchases, the Navajos acquired nearly 29,000 acres at the base of the range south of Westcliffe. The purchases were not coincidental.
“All of our kids, all of our children, they know about the four sacred mountains,” says Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, in an interview with a New Mexico newspaper.
Tsisnaasjini’, the name used by the Navajo for Blanca, translates as “white shell” and is sacred in the cosmology of the Diné, as the Navajo call themselves. The flag also represents three other sacred mountains, including Hesperus northwest of Durango and one peak each in New Mexico and Arizona.
Wolf Springs Ranch, the larger of the two spreads, had been owned for 18 years by Tom Redmond, former owner of Aussie, the cosmetics firm, and current president of Onesta, a natural hair care products firm. The smaller Boyer Ranch had been ranched since 1942 by members of the Boyer family. The two ranches together sold for $31 million.
The Navajo plan to continue ranching, folding the operations into Navajo Beef, a business begun in 2012.
“There is a good market for quality beef in restaurants and grocery stores, and Navajo can meet that demand,” Begaye says.
The Wolf Springs sale included 400 head of cattle as well as 900 head of bison. The Navajo had not ranched bison before but will add that to their offerings.
The Navajo also plan to develop the property for a retreat, with an emphasis on health and wellness. ”We really are emphasizing healthy living, eating healthy food, raising our own food, so that’s why we’re so much into grass-fed beef and now grass-fed buffalo,” Begaye says.
The purchases do not include Blanca itself. The Trinchera Ranch property extends to the summit of Blanca and an adjoining 14er, Ellingwood Point, and encompasses all of yet another nearby 14er, Lindsey. The Trinchera, part of a giant land grant from the Mexican government in 1844 — when southern Colorado was part of Mexico — is owned by hedge fund manager Louis Bacon.
Four of the 14ers in the Mosquito Range — the trio of Lincoln, Democrat and Bross, all near Alama, and Sherman, to the south — are almost entirely privately owned, says Lloyd Athearn, of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. That private ownership is a legacy of the mining in the range that began with the rush of 1859 to what is now Colorado.