ACOMA PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) – Leaders from New Mexico’s 22 American Indian tribes, nations and pueblos met with Gov. Bill Richardson May 5 for the first of what will become an annual summit to promote cooperation between state and tribal governments.
The State Tribal Collaboration Act, passed during this year’s legislative session, mandates an annual summit and requires all state agencies to appoint at least one liaison who will work with tribal governments.
Richardson and state Indian Affairs Secretary Alvin Warren said the summit, held at Acoma Pueblo’s Sky City Hotel Casino, was a success.
“From the ambitious agenda set out by our leaders today, a course of action has now been determined to jointly address some of the most pressing concerns and needs of tribal communities and improve government-to-government relations,” Warren said.
The summit focused on infrastructure, economic development, education and health care. Leaders agreed to find ways to enhance the state’s tribal infrastructure fund, boost economic development in tribal communities and increase student retention and success.
Other priorities include implementing additional prevention measures for chronic ailments, increasing the numbers of Indian health practitioners and continuing collaboration on drunken driving prevention and enforcement efforts.
Acoma Pueblo Gov. Chandler Sanchez said the summit offered tribal leaders an opportunity to address issues of mutual concern.
“This summit brings us face to face, leader to leader and sovereign government to government to promote sustainable state-tribal collaboration and partnership,” Sanchez said.
In addition to the summit and appointment of agency tribal liaisons, the collaboration act requires all state agencies to provide special training for employees who work with tribes and to develop by the end of the year policies that promote better communication with tribes.
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