Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Mixing Politics & Traditional Religion

Banished in Perpetuity

On November 22, 2002, the Head War Chief Eugene Jiron and Governor Alvino Lucero signed a letter banishing me from holding an elected or appointed public office in perpetuity.

Governor Alvino Lucero knew that he could not stop tribal members from voting for me. So, he decided to use our traditional religious leaders to do his dirty work in politics. This is why the former Governor told the Head War Chief, Eugene Jiron, to sign the banishment letter.

The Head War Chief is a traditional position. It is a very important position within our Tribe. It is sacred and that is why you will not see any language in our Constitution about the Head War Chief.

Our people chose to adopt a Constitution to create a government, which would be separate from our traditional religious leaders. The Constitution would be a shield to protect our traditions from the politics of our government.

Mixing politics with traditional religious leaders will hurt and destroy the traditions of our Tribe. It will happen slowly and before you know it — the traditions will be gone because traditional leaders allowed the Governors and Council Members to pull them into politics.

As we go through life, all of us make mistakes. Former Governor Alvino Lucero made a serious mistake when he decided to mix politics with traditions by telling the Head War Chief to sign his political letter to banish me.  He then claimed that he had a “petition” signed by the people to banish me.  Yet, he never presented the Council or me with his “petition.”

I am talking about this today because some members of the current Council may soon choose to walk in the same footsteps as former Governor Alvino Lucero. They want to use the traditional religious leaders by having them demand that the Council remove my name as a candidate for the upcoming election. This will prevent the people from being able to choose whether they will vote for me or not.

So, we will soon see which path that the current Council Members choose to walk.

To read Governor Alvino Lucero’s letter, click: Banishment Letter.


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