Mtg. started 9:06 a.m.
Absent: CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero & Lt. Gov. Isidor Abeita
Governor Eddie Paul Torres requested the Council to authorize the Tribal Attorney, Pablo Padilla, to draft a resolution that would make the Pueblo’s position clear in its boundary dispute with Valencia County.
A fence is in the wrong place for a distance of four miles according to Attorney Padilla. Trespassers are using a road within the reservation. The road is causing problems because people are cutting the Pueblo’s fence, dumping trash on the reservation and killing cattle.
Valencia residents living near the border also use the road to access their homes. Before shutting down the road, Governor Torres wants to afford Valencia County an opportunity to find alternative routes for its residents. Torres asked the Council to support his efforts.
Attorney Padilla said that Valencia County suggested swapping land with the Pueblo to resolve the conflict. But, he said that Valencia County has no land for a swap. Nor, does the County have the money to buy the Pueblo’s land.
According to Padilla, the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is responsible for protecting the Tribe’s boundaries. Governor Torres told the Council that he has made it clear to the BIA that they need to do their job and protect the boundaries. He stated. “This shouldn’t cost Isleta anything, if it goes into litigation.”
Secretary Verna Teller made a motion for Attorney Padilla to draft a resolution to establish the Pueblo’s legal position for approval by Council and to reject the land swap proposal from Valencia County.
CM Barbara Sanchez wanted Teller to restate her motion to include language referencing the BIA’s obligation to protect the Tribe’s boundaries. Attorney Padilla said he would include such language in the resolution he drafts. So, Teller did not restate her motion.
CM Phillip Jiron seconded Teller’s motion. The motion carried 10 in favor, 0 opposed and 1 abstaining. CM Barbara Sanchez abstained because she felt the motion should have referenced the BIA’s obligation of protecting the Tribe’s boundaries.
ISLETA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
President Michael Allen Lente, Vice President Larry Lucero, Secretary Teller and CM Juan Rey Abeita attended an Isleta Elementary School Board meeting. Secretary Teller reported that she felt that there was a contentious relationship between Principal Shawna Castillo and the faculty. President Lente also commented that “there is a hostile environment between the Principal and the teachers.”
CM Juan Rey Abeita said that Isleta Elementary has had 9 principals over the past 7 years. He said principals are being chased out and the School’s retention rate is dropping. According to Abeita, the School receives approximately $3500 per student from the federal government. He is concerned that each year the government is cutting funding to the School because students are leaving. Yet, the cost to pay staff continues to rise.
Vice President Jaramillo said the budget for the School is 3 million dollars and about 80% goes to salaries. He expressed concerns about the School failing to provide children with a quality education. Los Lunas informed the Tribe that Isleta students are ill prepared when they transfer from Isleta Elementary.
The Tribal Council directed Governor Torres to meet with the School Board and BIE officials [Bureau of Indian Education] to discuss the problems at Isleta Elementary. Vice-President Larry Jaramillo and CM Juan Rey Abeita will also participate in those meetings as the Council’s liaisons.
President Lente recommended that CM Barbara Sanchez also be involved with those meetings because of her background in education. CM Sanchez said she will develop a “position paper” on the matter. She said that her paper will suggest possible solutions or recommendations to the problems.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
President Lente asked CM Juan Rey Abeita to give a report on the Board of Education.
CM Juan Rey Abeita said there was nothing to report because the School Board has not had any meetings. Abeita said “there is no Board in existence and students don’t have any place to submit appeals. I just don’t know what’s going on over there.”
CM Phillip Jiron then stated that “the Board had a meeting last night. I don’t know why you weren’t told.”
CM Juan Rey Abeita was not aware of any meeting. He said. “We’ve already started looking for 2 Board members. We need to advertise to see who is interested in serving.”
According to CM Juan Rey Abeita, the Board of Education oversees Johnson O’Malley (JOM), Adult Education, the Tiwa Language Program and the Scholarship Program for Higher Education.
REQUEST FOR RELEASE OF CIGARETTE RESOLUTION
Secretary Teller advised the Council that Chanel Chavez from the Treasurer’s Office requested the Council to release Resolution # 2009-022 “Protection of the Tribal Cigarette Market on the Pueblo of Isleta.” The Treasurer’s Office needs the resolution to prepare for an upcoming meeting with tribal members that sell cigarettes on the reservation.
CM Barbara Sanchez made a motion to provide Resolution # 2009-022 to Chanel Chavez. Second by Phillip Jiron, motion carried 11 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.
11:22 a.m. Council breaks for lunch.
AFTERNOON SESSION 1:10 P.M.
Absent: CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero & CM Fernando Abeita
PROPOSED PROBATE CODE
The Council resumed discussion of the proposed probate code from a previous meeting.
The following judges were also present for the discussion:
William Johnson, Chief Justice Isleta Appellate Court;
Larry Lucero, Chief Judge Isleta Tribal Court;
Joe Little, Associate Judge Isleta Tribal Court; &
Renee Torres, Associate Judge Isleta Tribal Court (Judge Torres arrive approximately 30 minutes after the discussion started).
John Romero, Director of Isleta Realty, was also in attendance along with Acting Chief of Police Kevin Mariano and two other officers of the Isleta Police Department (IPD).
Pablo Padilla, Tribal Attorney, explained that the United State Code requires Indian Tribes to include “certain elements” in probate codes because the Tribe’s land is in trust.
Secretary Verna Teller questioned a provision that entitled the eldest son to inherit a parent’s home to the exclusion of other children in the absence of a will. Attorney Padilla replied that he did not develop the proposed code. He said that the Sonosky Law Firm developed the Code. So, he was unsure.
Nevertheless, Padilla suggested that the provision may have something to do with the customs and traditions of the Pueblo. Teller then asked. “How far back are we going to go with our customs and traditions? Shouldn’t the Tribe go back prior to the Spanish Conquest when the Tribe was a matrilineal society?”
The proposed code also included provisions on the disposition of sacred items. CM Josephine Padilla felt it was improper for the code to contain any language on such matters. She explained that such items do not belong to the individual that passes away or to the surviving family members. According to CM Padilla, traditional leaders decide what happens to those items.
CM Josephine Padilla also questioned why the probate code contained language referring to the “Cultural Committee” to resolve or to determine the customs and traditions of the Pueblo in relation to probate matters. She voiced concern that the persons on the Cultural Committee are not the only persons knowledgeable with the Tribe’s customs and traditions. She also explained that those persons cannot speak for all of the traditional societies.
The Council will release the proposed probate code to the community for public comment after they agree upon a finalized version.
2:01 p.m. CM Barbara Sanchez left the meeting.
2:43 p.m. I left the meeting.
By Christopher Abeita