Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Political Endorsements & Blood Quantums

PrintPoint & Counter-Point

Herman Lente, a candidate for Governor of Isleta Pueblo, released a statement concerning the obligation of a Governor to represent the entire Tribe.  He explained his commitment to honor the Tribal Constitution and to ensure that he would treat everyone in our Tribe fairly.  To read his statement, click: Blood Quantum

His letter triggered the following discussion:

Kathy Montoya [Is] he or is he not for the blood quantum?

Isleta Pueblo Politics The Council and the Governor cannot lower the blood quantum. Only the tribe can lower the blood quantum by voting to amend the Constitution. To amend the Constitution, the people can submit a petition directly to the Secretary of Interior requesting an election to amend the Constitution or the Council can vote to request a Secretarial Election. The individual opinions of the candidates on whether to lower the blood quantum are irrelevant.

Terry Lente Dear IPP: Of course it matters whether or not individuals in office are in support of lowering the blood quantum!! After the petition is submitted to the Secretary of Interior that is when the tribal administration comes into play! The Bureau has to work with tribal administration and if they are not in support (both the Governor and Council) than it is very difficult to proceed as quickly as possible to get things moving! If they are not supportive road blocks are placed, like last election! So, community members in support of lowering the blood quantum should watch from our Task Force for Membership the endorsement of candidates for Governor and Tribal Council which will officially take place on Saturday, November 15 @ 1;00 pm, the meeting will be held at Kimo Construction on Highway 47.

Isleta Pueblo Politics Actually, what truly matters is whether Tribal Officials have the personal integrity to honor and follow the law despite their personal sentiments. For instance, a Governor that personally disagrees with a law, has an obligation to follow, honor and comply with that law despite their personal feelings. Judges and Council members have that same obligation. And, it’s very unfortunate that many of them don’t.

Nevertheless, as you are well aware, our Tribe is sharply divided about lowering the blood quantum to one-quarter. There are very good arguments on both sides of that issue. So, there is no right answer on the blood quantum issue.

It is truly sad to see our Tribe ripped in half because people are unwilling to respectfully disagree with someone that may have a different viewpoint. Instead, many of us become vicious, insulting and cruel to other tribal members just because they hold an alternative view.

An “endorsement” from your Task Force will only serve to divide our Tribe once again. If the candidates for office had wisdom, then they would decline an endorsement from your group. Instead, every candidate should simply make the same commitment as Herman Lente, which is honor and follow the law.

Once elected, every Council Member and the Governor have an obligation to represent the entire Tribe. And, they should strive to act in the best interests of the Tribe as a whole. They should not cater to a special interest group within our Tribe. If they do, then our government will become just as corrupt as our State and Federal Governments.


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  1. An informed voter in any election should know about the candidate’s position on issues that are important to them. The Task Force for Membership does not divide the Tribe, the difference of opinions on this sensitive issue already exists. The endorsement by the Task Force merely inform our supporters of which candidates are less likely to create roadblocks once the petition is submitted to the Secretary of Interior.

    1. Terry, the problem with your “Task Force for Membership” is that they are concerned about a single issue: lowering the blood quantum. But, that is not the only issue or challenge facing our Tribe. The problem with single issue advocacy groups is that they have tunnel vision and they fail to properly educate the voters.

      Our Tribe has many other issues that are of equal, if not greater importance than the blood quantum issue, like finding a way to pay the cost of decent health care for all of our people. The 3.5 million dollars that our Tribe wasted on a bunch of cows could have been better spent in providing health care to our people. Perhaps, we could’ve built a satellite EMS department in Chical to ensure that our families are better protected.

      Right now, our Tribe is facing critical issues like mismanagement of the Casino, Lava Block Plant, Comanche Ranch and the IBC. Our Tribe is losing millions of dollars due to failure of the officials currently in office.

      Our Tribe needs to ask: Why are so many of our families still living in poverty when we have a Casino? We have tribal members struggling day to day to simply feed their families while our current officials happily give themselves free concert tickets to shows at the Casino. Sure, once in a while, an official will give a concert ticket to a tribal member. But, our people deserve a hell of lot more than a concert ticket.

      Right now, our families don’t even have an equal chance at getting a simple job with our Tribe unless they are lucky enough to be related to Governor Torres or one the Council Members. Why is that?

      We also have many complex issues that do not get enough attention such as the Tribe’s water rights. The next time you drive over the Rio Grande ask yourself: why is our river turning into a dried up ditch? What are Governor Torres and the current Council doing to protect our water rights?

      Right now, our tribal officials are trying to find a way to violate our Tribal Constitution to avoid term limits instead of applying the plain language to honor the will of the Tribe. They are using — the Tribe’s money — to pay lawyers —- to find a way to escape their obligation of honoring the people’s decision to establish Term Limits. Why?

      We have a court system that is dysfunctional and I could go on and on and on.

      So, voting for a candidate based on a single issue is a very poor method of choosing a candidate to represent our Tribe.

      I’ve attended many Council Meetings and I know very well the strengths and weaknesses of our current Council and Governor. Sadly, only a very few deserve to get back into office. I wish that I could endorse all of them because we are supposed to be one people. We’re supposed to be a Tribe standing together. But, we’re not — because many of us have tunnel vision.

What are your thoughts?

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