By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press
SANTA FE, NM (AP) – Native American communities in New Mexico finalize proposed redistribution maps aimed at greater self-determination in future public elections, as competing plans head to the Legislature for consideration .
Participants in a New Mexico Pueblo Indigenous Community Redistribution Commission said Friday that the map proposals could be finalized as early as next week.
The maps will go to a seven-member Citizen Redistribution Commission that reviews and verifies the redistribution maps for the Legislative Assembly, which can adopt recommendations or start from scratch. The seven-seat commission has no Native American representation.
New Mexico is home to 23 federally recognized tribes, whose growing political weight is reflected in the election of Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, to Congress in 2016 and her promotion this year to secretary of the ‘Interior.
Lawyer Joseph Little is working with a broad alliance of Native American communities to turn redistribution principles into action by using the results of the 2020 census to track population changes.
He said census figures had only been provided recently due to a federal delay that delayed their release for months. The major redistribution changes are most likely in the state’s heavily Native American northwest and an oil-producing region in the southeast.
“It’s important that we get these cards early,” Little said. “We didn’t have the census figures until recently.”
The share of New Mexico residents who identify as native by race or combined ancestry was 12.4% according to census results released in August. Alaska was the most Native American state in the United States, followed by Oklahoma and New Mexico.
At the same time, Native American politicians rose to legislative leadership positions on committees overseeing taxation, Indian affairs, agriculture, and elections, although some frustrations persist over the distribution of state resources. to tribal communities.
In April, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, signed a bill that funnels more federal “impact aids” to schools in Native American communities to make up for property tax losses on them. federal and tribal lands exempt from tax.
State Representative Georgene Louis of Acoma Pueblo on Friday congratulated tribal communities for their commitment to the redistribution process.
“In New Mexico, I think we’re very lucky, where the tribes are very active in seeing how we can make sure that we are involved in the process of selecting our own representatives who will then hold the state accountable,” he said. she declared. .
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