State’s 19 pueblos and tribes band together for redistricting pitch in light of NM demographic changes

By: - September 23, 2021 5:05 am

A consensus map of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico and the Jicarilla Apache Nation for proposed state Senate boundaries. (State House boundaries in the article below.)

The state’s pueblos and tribes released their ideas for how political maps being drawn this year will help them express political power amid increases in numbers of Native Americans overall — and population losses around pueblos.

The Citizen Redistricting Committee is soliciting public feedback on maps its staff put together after weeks of meetings. The committee will then draw up proposals to send them to the state Legislature, which will redraw the boundaries.

The number of self-identified Native Americans in New Mexico increased from about 190,000 in 2010 to about 230,000 in 2020, according to last year’s census. The state lost population elsewhere, predominantly in the north and eastern parts of the state, near many pueblos. 

San Juan County, for example, which includes Farmington, lost about 8,300 people — or 7% of its population — in the last decade, according to census figures.

State House and Senate maps drawn up by the All Pueblo Council of Governors aim to maintain the political majorities they have in six state House districts and three state Senate districts.

A consensus map for proposed state House boundaries.

One major change in the council’s proposed map for the state House is to loop House District 65 around the 3,300-member Jicarilla Apache Nation, bringing it into a district with other pueblos in Western and Central New Mexico. District 65 is about 65% Native American. The Jicarilla Apache Nation is currently split into several other districts. 

The proposed map redraws the lines around the Jicarilla Apache Nation, “acknowledging the collaboration and historical connections between Jicarilla Apache and the Pueblos,” the council wrote in a description of the map proposal.

The council touted the collaboration required to produce the maps as “history-making,” saying every pueblo, each of which is sovereign, approved the maps individually after they were produced by a redistricting working group.

“This effort reflects not only an understanding of the importance of tribal involvement in the redistricting process, but more importantly, the need to protect our cherished right to vote,” council Chairman Wilfred Herrera Jr. said in a news release. “We’re mindful that the work doesn’t end here. The Pueblo Governors want to see their maps used to shape and define their interests for the next 10 years.”


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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard. Along the way, he's won several state and national awards for his reporting, including for an exposé on a cult-like Alcoholics Anonymous group and a feature on an Upstate New York militia member who died of COVID-19. He's thrilled to be back home in New Mexico, where he works to tell stories that resonate and make an impact.