Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Council Approves Changes to Enrollment Ordinance

Today, the Isleta Tribal Council approved various amendments to the Tribal Enrollment Ordinance. Council Member Fernando Abeita made the motion and Michael Allen Lente seconded. The vote was 6 in favor, 1 opposed and 0 abstaining. Barbara Sanchez voted against.

On April 6, 2016, Isleta voters approved a constitutional amendment to lower the Isleta blood-quantum from 1/2 to 1/4. The federal government certified the election results on May 17th. The amendment allows persons with at least 1/4 Isleta Indian-blood to become members of the Pueblo as long as they are not enrolled with another Indian tribe.

On July 13, 2006, the Council enacted a Tribal Enrollment Ordinance. Throughout the years, this law has been amended numerous times including the changes approved today.

The April 6th constitutional amendment caused several provisions of the Enrollment Ordinance to become unconstitutional. Also, the ordinance did not contain a process to enroll quarter-bloods.

On May 2, 2016, the Council approved a four (4) phase plan to enroll quarter-bloods. This plan would have forced quarter-bloods to wait up to 7 1/2 years to be enrolled, if they lived off the reservation.

Tribal members JoAnne Rael, Terry Lente and Attorney Helen Padilla voiced concerns and opposition to the Council’s four (4) phase plan. This caused the Council to revisit their plan.

As a result, the Council has been scrambling to make numerous changes to the Enrollment Ordinance based on the legal advice of Attorney Kaydee Culbertson along with Michelle Lujan, Coordinator of the Isleta Enrollment and Census Office.

After the Council approved the changes to the Enrollment Ordinance, Terry Lente requested a copy of the newly revised Enrollment Ordinance. President Verna Teller told her that she would probably need to file a formal written request to obtain a copy.

The Isleta Tribal Council refuses to publish their laws to ensure that all Tribal Members have notice of their laws. Instead, the Council requires Tribal Members to submit a formal written request to obtain copies of their laws or resolutions. The Council then decides on a case-by-case basis whether to authorize the release of the law or resolution being requested.

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What are your thoughts?

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