Albuquerque's Native American Advocacy Restored
January 9, 2017
Albuquerque- After years of inactivity, Mayor Richard J. Berry is reconstituting the City of Albuquerque’s Commission on Indian Affairs. The administration has recognized the great importance of this board which is why he placed such a strong emphasis on its activeness.
In August of 2015, Mayor Berry launched the Native American Homelessness Task Force, in response to the senseless murders of two Native American men on Albuquerque’s west Central Avenue the previous year. The Task Force issued 14 recommendations, one being the reconstitution of the Commission to continue the dialogue and advocacy for Albuquerque’s Indian American citizens. The City’s ordinance regulating the Commission’s scope stipulates that each board member rigorously promote the health, safety and general welfare of Native Americans by acting as their champions for employment, service, and economic development activities. Additionally, Mayor Berry has asked the members to focus on Indian American entrepreneurs and their economic wellbeing.
The Commission boasts a distinguished panel of members:
- Mr. Ronald Solimon, Esq., is the Chair of the Commission. Mr. Solimon is a member of West Mesa High School’s first graduating class. In 1973, he graduated from New Mexico State University, and from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1976. Solimon has specialized in community and economic development at his home pueblo of Laguna as well as the City of Albuquerque. He has served on state and national boards and commissions and has been recognized for his leadership and management roles. Mr. Solimon retired from his Cabinet position with the Institute of American Indian Arts in June of 2015.
- Mr. William F. Riding In earned a Bachelor’s in American Indian Studies from Haskell Indian Nations University in 2012. He then attended graduate school at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2013. Currently, he is employed by the First Nations Community Healthsource in Albuquerque as a Homeless Outreach Coordinator. Riding In provides case management services for its clients and performs street outreach while providing awareness about the services offered through Healthsource.
- Ms. Laurie Weahkee currently serves as the Executive Director for the Native American Voters Alliance (NAVA) and NAVA Education Project. Over the last 25 years, she has been involved in Native American issues on community empowerment for traditional land based communities. Weahkee received a Cultural Preservation Award from the NM Department of Indian Affairs for her work to protect Native American sacred sites. She also serves on the New Mexico State Advisory Commission for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
- Mr. Michael Canfield has over 35 years of business and leadership experience. He is currently the President and CEO of the All Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and has strong relationships with tribal leaders from the 19 pueblos. Canfield also provides leadership for the Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., which is responsible for operating tribally-owned organizations located on the Albuquerque Indian School property. Canfield has strong ties to the New Mexico community through his current and past leadership positions.
- Dr. Lloyd Lee is an Associate Professor of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He is also the Director of the Institute for American Indian Research housed in the College of Arts & Sciences and President of the Board for the American Indian Studies Association. Dr. Lee is the author of the book Dine Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections. He also edited the book Dine Perspectives: Reclaiming and Revitalizing Navajo Thought. Dr. Lee grew up in Albuquerque and has lived here for over 30 years.