Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Quarter-Bloods & Equal Protection

On Friday, May 20, 2016, JoAnn Rael, Terry Lente and attorney Helen B. Padilla submitted a proposed plan to the Isleta Tribal Council for the prompt enrollment of Isleta quarter-bloods. Their plan offers suggested changes to the Tribal Enrollment Ordinance. The changes would allow persons already classified as “descendants” to be automatically enrolled as tribal members.

However, the Isleta Tribal Council already approved a four (4) phase plan to enroll quarter-bloods. According to Michelle Lujan, Coordinator of the Isleta Enrollment and Census Office, the four (4) phase plan will take up to 7 1/2 years to enroll approximately 1400 quarter-bloods as members.

The Council’s plan was contingent on the federal government certifying the April 6th election results.

On May 17, 2016, the federal government certified the results. However, Governor Eddie Paul Torres and the Isleta Tribal Council have not yet officially notified the Tribe that the results were certified. Nor, have they released the letter from the feds to the Tribe.

Nonetheless, on May 2, 2016, the Council approved a four (4) phase plan to enroll quarter-bloods. The Council’s plan provides:

Phase 1 – Enroll approximately 500 quarters that reside on the rez. Estimated time to complete 2 1/2 years.

Phase 2 – Enroll approximately 400 quarters that reside off the rez in nearby surrounding areas such as Valencia County and Bernalillo County. Estimated time to complete 2 years.

Phase 3 – Enroll approximately 100 quarters that reside throughout NM. Estimated time to complete 1 year.

Phase 4 – Enroll approximately 400 quarters that reside throughout the United States. Estimated time to complete 2 years.

Vice-President Betty Lente made the motion to approve the four (4) phase plan. She made sure not to include language on the estimated time to complete each phase. Fernando Abeita seconded the motion. The motion carried with 4 voting in favor, 2 opposed and 0 abstaining.

Voting in favor: Verna Teller, Betty Lente, Fernando Abeita and Michael Allen Lente; Voting against: Ulysses Abeita and Barbara Sanchez. Abstaining: 0. Frank Lujan was absent.

Despite the Council excluding language on the estimated time, the Council’s plan would still force quarters to wait up to 7 1/2 years before they could be enrolled simply because they do not live on the rez.

In response, JoAnne Rael, Terry Lente and Helen Padilla are raising concerns that the Council’s plan violates the equal protection provisions contained in the Isleta Tribal Constitution and in the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA). In a memo to the Council, they state:

“The residency of new members cannot be used to lengthen the process to enroll descendants, because this treatment of non-local descendants violates equal protection of the law. . . . The tribal government must show a reasonable basis for delaying the prompt enrollment of all new tribal members, and cannot treat an out-of-state descendant differently than one who lives locally.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the constitutional amendment are planning to meet on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. According to fliers, they will discuss options for challenging the election process. The meeting will be at the “Isleta Rec Center North Soccer Field.”


Many tribal members believe that the election process was unfair. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) conducted the election. People are questioning whether the BIA’s method of notifying tribal members to register  was flawed.

The BIA informed tribal members about the election by sending out notices through the mail. The BIA obtained addresses from the Isleta Census and Enrollment Office. However, tribal members complain that they never received a notice from the BIA. This prevented them from registering to vote.

Also, according to BIA regulations, the only persons who may challenge the election are persons who registered to vote. This allows the BIA to simply ignore challenges raised by persons who did not register. This creates questions such as:

Was the BIA’s method of providing notice fair and reasonable?

Are BIA regulations that prohibit challenges from tribal members who did not register valid?


May 20, 2016 Memo to Council

Proposed Enrollment Plan

Enrollment Flowchart

Proposed Amendments to Enrollment Ordinance




Add a Comment
  1. I am sure those that “say” they did not get their voter registration in the mail are the first ones in line for their per-capita checks. THat is plain BS and lateral oppression at its finest. Division is not good. If you look at our language, in 10-15 years there will be no more fluent speakers left Wake up people. A long time ago, our people did not turn away others who were not even full blood. That is why some of our great grandparents were adopted or naturalized into the tribe. So when you look at the big picture, you better start with your own families and those of our ancestors. We never looked at blood quantum, Colonization brought that term to our people. All I can say is don’t condemn the people who now represent our tribe. Its a shame…..

  2. Cecelia Lente you are from Laguna and you claim it Why not go back there and reclaim your ancestors’ blood. If you’re interested in the truth the secretarial election was not done according to the CFR. How can you feel good about that? If you want to say it was fair and square then make sure the secretarial election be done by the right CFR. Otherwise the quaterbloods will be looked as crooked tribal members. Ut-tay. You have kids from a white man and now your grandkids are mexican. That’s why you want to bring down the blood quantum. You don’t live here and you open your mouth.

  3. Cecelia Lente! You are 100% correct on your posting. If there are any full-blooded Isleta Indians–they have come and gone. Look around our village and what do you see–green or blue eyes, light skinned members. Look at all the inbreeding among the same family members just like cattle, horses, dogs, cats and the list continues–just for the sake of keeping a “blood quantum”–what a joke! Members breeding with each others husband, wives and cousins. Ut-tay! Open your eyes and see all the other important problems affecting our members such as cancer, alcohol and drug abuse–those are the problems we should be addressing instead of how much Isleta blood runs through our veins. Ut-tay!

    Minnie Mouse! You’re just a ignorant as they come. Please take a few moments to thoroughly read the CFR (if you can comprehend). Your ignorance proves just how illiterate you sound which confirms your ridiculous posting. If you have the “balls” to state your comments then you should have the “balls” to get rid of the fictitious name or tell Cecelia Lente to her face. Ut-tay! Is that how you were raised? Kee Ka Waiee – In Hah Awaiee will ultimately judge each and every one of us no matter if we have one spec of Isleta blood, not you. Nonetheless, nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity Minnie Mouse!

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