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Shaun Griswold
Source New Mexico 

New Mexico is inching closer to a consensus around a redistricting map that will draw lines for the 70 state House legislative voting districts.

House Bill 8 was presented to the Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee Tuesday with resounding support from all tribal leaders in New Mexico, a significant gesture echoed in their statements to the committee.

So far, no competing bills for House redistricting have been introduced.

“It has not been an easy process trying to reach a consensus among sovereign governments,” said Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo. “But I believe that underscores our greatest desire and concern, and that is to protect the voting rights of our tribal citizens.”

Representatives from Navajo, Apache and Pueblo communities spoke in favor of the lines drawn by HB 8, which is sponsored by Rep. Daymon Ely, D-New Mexico. They say the maps protect six majority Native American districts and also are considerate of sacred sites that exist outside tribal boundaries, such as Chaco Canyon.

“One must look beyond our current reservation boundaries and see it through the lens of our Zuni worldview,” said Zuni Pueblo Councilman Arlen Quetawki Sr. “We maintain strong connections to our sister Pueblos and the Navajo Nation, a shared connection to sacred places like the Zuni Salt Lake, Mount Taylor, Apple Canyon and the Owl Mount Pike Area. Ancient alliances continue to this day.”

Those alliances were on full display, an effort committee chair Rep. Georgene Louis, D-New Mexico, applauded.

“Especially after having the lack of input from prior 10 years ago, it’s really significant today having our tribal leaders come here to support something so significant,” said Louis, Acoma Pueblo. “I’m just grateful now that we have this consensus map.”

The committee will reconvene Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Lawmakers will have the opportunity to ask questions and bring up concerns. If passed the bill will then move on to House Judiciary. It could see a full floor vote in the House by the end of the week.

Reps. Louis and Ely expect HB 8 to succeed on Wednesday.

“In terms of redistricting, something really truly historic has happened,” Ely said, “where we are sitting and listening to all of the tribal interests, telling us what they want to do, and adopting it into our maps.”

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This story was originally published at Source New Mexico and republished with permission.