Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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7 1/2 Years for Enrollment of “Descendants” is Unjustified

The following article is based on the “Amended and Restated Tribal Enrollment Ordinance of the Isleta Pueblo” enacted on August 11, 2011, through Resolution No. 2011-053.

The Isleta Tribal Council often changes laws without notifying the people. This is especially true since the Council no longer needs federal approval to enact tribal laws. So, it’s possible that Resolution No. 2011-053 is no longer current.

Nevertheless, according to the Resolution, Section 7(F) of the Enrollment Ordinance requires the Pueblo of Isleta Census and Enrollment Office to maintain “a list of Descendants.” In relevant part, to be classified as a “Descendant,” a person must meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least one-quarter (1/4) Isleta Indian blood; and
  • Not be enrolled with any other federally recognized Indian tribe.

Every person who satisfies the “criteria” is then issued a “Descendant Number” to identify those persons as having one-quarter (1/4) Isleta Indian blood.

This means that every person with a tribal identification card containing a “Descendant Number” has already submitted documentation to prove that they have one-quarter (1/4) Isleta Indian blood.

Further, the Census and Enrollment Office should have already verified that such persons are not enrolled with any other Indian tribe. This is the only way that the Enrollment Office could or should have classified those persons as “Descendants.”

Therefore, the persons who have already undergone the process to be deemed a “Descendant” — are and should — be deemed members of the Pueblo — when and if — the constitutional amendment to lower the blood quantum from one-half (1/2) to one-quarter (1/4) takes effect.

The anticipated date of approval for the constitutional election results is 45 days after the date of the April 6th election. Unless there is a successful challenge to the election results, the approval date should occur no later than May 21, 2016. (See, 25 CFR §81.45(e))

The Isleta Tribal Council should not force “Descendants” to wait years, months or days to be enrolled as members of the Pueblo because those persons have already undergone the process to prove that they have one-quarter (1/4) Isleta Indian blood. And, the Enrollment Office should have already verified that those persons are not enrolled with any other Indian tribes.

On May 2, 2016, the Isleta Tribal Council approved a plan to enroll “Descendants.” The Council’s plan will allow the Enrollment Office and the Tribal Enrollment Committee (TEC) an estimated 7 1/2 years to enroll “Descendants” based on their residency. (See, 7 1/2 Years to Enroll Quarter-Bloods).

The plan to enroll “Descendants” based on their residency is unreasonable and unjustified because the quarter-bloods with “Descendant Numbers” have already proven that they are entitled to membership. But, the Isleta Tribal Council is forcing these same persons to undergo an application process to once again prove that they have one-quarter Isleta Indian blood. Why?

The only persons that should be required to undergo an application process are those persons who have not yet proven that they have one-quarter Isleta Indian blood and that they are not enrolled with any other Indian tribe.

Isleta voters approved a constitutional amendment that entitles persons with one-quarter Isleta Indian blood to be members of the Pueblo. The amendment provides:

“Persons of one-quarter (1/4) or more degree of Isleta Indian blood and Isleta parentage SHALL be members of the Pueblo of Isleta, provided that they have not renounced their right to membership.” (Emphasis Added).

If and when the constitutional amendment becomes effective, it will obligate the Tribal Council to ensure that Isleta quarter-bloods are enrolled as members of this Tribe expediently. The Tribal Council should not force quarter-bloods to wait 7 1/2 years for enrollment.

If the Isleta Census and Enrollment Office and the TEC are unable or unwilling to get the job done in a swift manner, then it is necessary to understand the reasons that they are using to cause delay. The Council must then take action to eliminate invalid excuses to ensure that “Descendants” are enrolled as Tribal Members swiftly.

To download the Tribal Enrollment Ordinance, click: Resolution No. 2011-053.


 

 

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