Indian Affairs Committee sets interim legislative agenda

Legislative panel to meet in tribal communities throughout New Mexico

By: - June 12, 2023 4:30 am

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe in December 2021 (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

The Indian Affairs Committee met on Friday to set its agenda and meeting schedule for the rest of 2023.

Topics expected to be discussed by the committee are organized below by broad policy areas.

Government & Politics

  • The Secretary of State, the Native American Voters Alliance and other elections groups will discuss tribal election issues
  • An update on Haaland v. Brackeen, the court case about the constitutionality of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act
  • An update from the Children, Youth and Families Department about the New Mexico Indian Family Protection Act
  • An update from the federal Indian boarding school initiative


  • Funding for tribal capital projects
  • Housing issues
  • Tribal gaming
  • Presentations by the Indian Affairs and Environment departments and the New Mexico Finance Authority about water infrastructure needs
  • A New Mexico Film Office presentation about the Sen. John Pinto Memorial Fund
  • A Department of Transportation report on tribal roads, construction and maintenance
  • Broadband access
  • Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell) wants to discuss alcohol on the floor of casinos


  • The Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit
  • The Zuni lawsuit, Impact Aid, and school funding formulas
  • The Navajo Code Talkers Museum
  • Preservation of Native American languages and culturally relevant early education
  • Native teacher retention and access
  • Pirtle wants to discuss transfers between New Mexico public schools and the Mescalero Apache School

Climate Change & Environment

  • Uranium mine transportation between different chapter houses of Navajo Nation
  • The federal decision regarding Chaco Canyon
  • A presentation by the Indian Resources Development program at New Mexico State University
  • Fire and flooding
  • A presentation by the Economic Development, Workforce Solutions and Indian Affairs departments about the Energy Transition Act
  • Annual reports from the Interstate Stream Commission, the Office of the State Engineer, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Fund, the Indian Affairs Department, and the Tribal Infrastructure Board


  • Veterans affairs
  • The liquor excise tax and potential uses for money raised by it
  • Substance use disorder and behavioral health
  • Rep. Charlotte Little (D-Albuquerque) suggested a discussion of how newly enacted work requirements for food benefits disproportionately impacts rural and tribal communities

Police & Prison

  • An update from the MMIWR Task Force.
  • Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) suggested that newly elected Attorney General Raúl Torrez meet with the committee to discuss what his office is doing about missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives.
  • Sen. Benny Shendo (D-Jemez Pueblo) also wants to discuss a bill he sponsored last session that would have given tribal police the power to enforce state law within the exterior boundaries of Native nations.
  • An update about DWI treatment courts
  • Presentations from domestic violence shelters

Tentative meeting schedule

July 13 and 14 at Mescalero Apache Tribe in Ruidoso.

Aug. 10 and 11 in Gallup.

Sept. 12 through 14 at chapter houses around Farmington, tentatively Upper Fruitland, Whippoorwill, and Nageezi.

Oct. 16 and 17 at Taos Pueblo, then Oct. 18 at Ohkay Owingeh.

Final meetings Nov. 28 at Santa Clara Pueblo, Nov. 29 at Tesuque Pueblo, and Nov. 30 in Santa Fe.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.