Marty Chavez

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Mexico Dem Party Native American Caucus Elects Officers at Packed Meeting

Click for larger version or photo album

This is a report by M.E. Broderick, who also provided the photos and videos.

On Wednesday, April 13, an extraordinary turnout of Native American New Mexicans packed into a conference room in Albuquerque to participate in the second election of officers of the Native American Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. The creation of a Native American Caucus was approved in 2006 by a unanimous vote of the DPNM State Central Committee, and was formed and developed with a body of rules and officers in 2008. Laura Harris, of Americans for Indian Opportunity, served as the first chair of the Caucus, and she presided over last week's meeting and the election of new officers.

Santa Clara Pueblo Native Alvin Warren will serve as the new chair of the Native American Caucus, having been unopposed and elected by acclamation. Mr. Warren previously chaired the New Mexico Indian Affairs Commission and served as the Secretary of the State Indian Affairs Department during the Governor Bill Richardson's administration. Very impressive background and very impressive human being. Warren also served two terms as lieutenant governor of Santa Clara Pueblo, and as the pueblo’s treasurer, tribal interpreter and a member of its tribal council.

Alvin Warren acceptance speech: We deserve to have a voice!

The competition for the Caucus' vice chair position consisted of a field of three very powerful, smart and energetic Native American women -- Charlotte Little, Debra Haaland and Tracy Goodluck. I am glad I did not have to vote because it would have been very difficult to choose between them. All three have lots of grassroots experience, share a passion for voter registration and have tracked countless miles working selflessly for Democratic concerns. The winner, by just five votes, was Tracy Goodluck. 

Tracy Goodluck addresses meeting

The Native American Caucus Secretary was also nominated and elected by acclamation, with Debra Haaland stepping up for that post. Also, Darrell De Guerro was unanimously elected to serve as the Caucus secretary.

The new leadership team got busy immediately. Chairman Warren suggested a planning strategy session within the next two weeks, and a date was established. An intense and wide-ranging brainstorming session followed to set the stage for the planning session. The high energy of the crowd was palpable, and much discussion revolved around ways to maximize Native American participation in politics and achieve much-needed changes in terms of issues of importance to New Mexico's large and diverse tribal population.

Participants voiced the conviction that, with the right road map, the caucus could mobilize significant numbers of Native American grassroots activists and voters, which could mean the difference between victory and defeat for Democrats in the 2012 election. They stressed the importance of actively and respectfully engaging Native Americans across the state, carefully listening to their views and responding proactively to their concerns. With an effective reach-out effort, participants stressed that Native Americans could be a powerful force in keeping the state Blue in 2012.

There are 34 unique tribal communities in our state, and New Mexico has the third highest number of Native Americans of all the states. It was noted that a fairly large migration of Indian peoples to urban areas had occurred in New Mexico since the 2000 census. There are now a record number of Native Americans -- about 54% of the total Indian population -- living in urban settings in the state. Obviously, much outreach has to be done to contact, register and activate this non-reservation population, as well as at the pueblos and reservations within the state.

One such effort will take place at the largest Pow Wow in the nation, the Gathering of Nations, which will take place in Albuquerque at the end of April. Many folks present at the meeting signed up as volunteers to register voters at the event.

Other discussions focused on nurturing youth to serve in leadership roles, and getting more Native Americans to run for office as school board members, ward chairs, members of Congress ... even President of the United States! I would personally love to see that day come, soon rather than later. After our entire country was essentially stolen from Native Americans, it would be a wonderful achievement to have a president steeped in the tribal sensibility of the earth leading the nation -- especially at a time of environmental peril. It's a wonderful vision, and the Native American Caucus can help to make such dreams a reality.

April 19, 2011 at 12:25 PM in Democratic Party, Native Americans | Permalink


Thank you for covering this. Nobody else does.

Posted by: Alise | Apr 20, 2011 11:33:12 AM

Thank you Mary Ellen! You're a great democrat! The Caucus appreciates your long-time support and the way you share "democratic moments" that take place around the state! You are the "communications" branch of the Democratic Party!

Posted by: Laura Harris | Apr 20, 2011 4:13:05 PM