Native American Community Dismissed by House Republicans and Governor Martinez
SANTA FE – American Indian Day was created as an opportunity for Tribes, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders to address the full New Mexico Legislature. Historically multiple Pueblo Leaders and Tribal Leaders have addressed the concerns of their communities to the joint session. Today was the first American Indian Day where the House Majority party gave this opportunity to a sitting Governor instead. During the last American Indian Day in 2013, seven leaders from our Native American communities addressed the joint session
“The opportunity for our Tribal, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders to address our joint session on American Indian Day has never been taken for granted, today politics was chosen over our Native American community,” said Representative James Roger Madalena. “American Indian Day has also been a day where Native American legislators are given the opportunity to introduce our honored guest from our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos. House Republicans took that out of today’s historical ceremony when they did not allow House Democrats to do so. The New Mexico legislature has always honored and treated the Native American community with respect – today that was violated. I am very disappointed that House Speaker Don Tripp allowed this to happen.”
“I am bitterly disappointed that Governor Martinez and House Republicans took away the one opportunity that our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders have to address both chambers of our legislature,” said Representative Georgene Louis. “As long as I can remember American Indian Day is the day that is focused on the dialogue between the Native American Community and our legislators – today that was taken away from us. The House Majority has always created the program and script of this very special day, House Republicans should never have allowed this day to become a political stunt.”
“Today, I was reminded by many Pueblo Leaders why Senator John Pinto first started American Indian Day,” Said Representative Doreen Wonda Johnson. They reminded me that it was started to ensure that our Tribes, Nations and Pueblo Leaders could voice their concerns to our law makers – today that opportunity never happened. American Indian Day is not a day that politics should take over. That became very apparent when House Democrats were not allowed to introduce our honored guests from our Pueblos and Tribes. Speaker Don Tripp and Governor Martinez should not have chosen politics over honoring our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos.
“Today was a missed opportunity for our Native American community to address every legislator in New Mexico,” said Laurie Weahkee, Executive Director of the Native American Voters Alliance. “American Indian Day has always been a time for our concerns to be heard by the New Mexico Legislative Body. Historically the program of the joint session has been created by the House Majority Party – House Republicans should have never disregarded our leaders. This year’s American Indian Day was an opportunity for even our Governor to hear our concerns directly from our leaders – instead this was used as a political platform. Our concerns should have been heard instead we were given very calculated political rhetoric.”
This was the first year where Pueblo Leaders and Tribal Leaders were not allowed to address the joint session on American Indian Day. The joint session of both chambers on American Indian Day is only held on 60 Day Sessions, the next one will be held in 2017.