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A disturbing viral video shot on Dec. 27 shows a park ranger using a stun gun on a Native American man on a walk with his dog and his sister at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Darrell House, who is Navajo and Oneida, said he often comes to the park to “pray and speak to my Pueblo Ancestor relatives.”
House, a former Marine, claimed he stepped off the train in an effort to maintain social distancing from another group of hikers when a park ranger ran up and warned him to stay on the path. The ranger demanded House provide identification, which House initially refused. The man later provided the ranger with a false identity, NBC News reported.
“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,” House said, according to NBC News. “And I don’t think he liked that very much.”
In a nearly 5-minute video posted on Instagram by House, the ranger is seen stunning the man and yelling at him to show his hands. As House yells in pain, his sister can be heard desperately asking the ranger what he is doing.
“I don’t have anything,” House tells the ranger between his cries. “I apologize for going off the trail.” He pleads with the ranger to stop, saying he is a peaceful person.
On Instagram, House said he was traumatized and that his left leg is numb and bleeding. House added that he continues to run different scenarios in his head of how things could have ended if he had attempted to disarm the ranger.
“These scenarios have been going through my head since this afternoon,” he wrote. “I’m a son, I’m a brother, I’m a father. More importantly, I’m a human being.”
After House’s video went viral, the National Park Service launched an investigation into the case. In a statement to NBC News, National Park Service spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo said the Park Service takes “any allegation of wrongdoing very seriously.”
The investigation will include interviews with the rangers involved, House, his sister and any other witnesses, the National Park Service said in a separate statement.
On Dec. 29, the National Park Service released a nearly 10-minute recording from the officer’s body camera footage. It also defended the ranger who used his stun gun on House, saying that the unidentified officer “attempted to resolve the interaction with an educational contact and simple warning.”
The statement added that both House and his sibling provided fake names and dates of birth to the ranger. House was cited “for being in a closed area off trail, providing false information and failing to comply with a lawful order.” Meanwhile, House’s sister was cited for providing false information and being in a closed area off trail.
House told NBC News that he never had an issue with a ranger or encountered one on the hiking trail, where he typically performs his meditations and prayers.
“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,” he said. “Nature is what we’ve been worshipping…and protecting it has always been our job.”
The National Park Service noted in its statement that there are 29 area pueblos and tribes that consider the Petroglyph a sacred place and use the site to connect with their ancestors, for prayer and ceremony.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.