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Albuquerque Becomes First City in America to Recognize Tribal Sovereignty by Establishing Government-to-Government Relations

Mayor Tim Keller Joins Tribal Leaders to Sign First-of-Its-Kind Legislation

March 12, 2019

Following a unanimous vote of the City Council to pass a bill amending the originating ordinance of the Commission on American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, Mayor Tim Keller joined Tribal leaders and Councilor Ken Sanchez today to sign the first-of-its-kind bill into law.

The ordinance, which is attached, recognizes tribal sovereignty and self-determination for tribal governments and requires the City to establish a government-to-government relationship between the City and the surrounding pueblos and tribes. It increases the size of the commission from five to nine members, including representatives of Sandia Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, Santa Ana Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, the To’hajiilee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, and the All Pueblo Council of Governors. The representatives will be chosen not by the City, but by the Chapter, Pueblo, or Council they represent.

The new law also mandates the board to regularly consult with tribal governments on actions that affect federally recognized tribal governments and to assess the impact of City programs on tribal communities.  

Mayor Keller said, “We are proud to recognize and honor our surrounding sovereign Tribes as true government-to-government partners. These are Albuquerque’s neighbors to the north, south, and west. Our relationships impact public safety, employment, health, homelessness, and quality of life for all people. Now, for the first time, the laws on our books reflect our respect for that sovereignty and the importance of those government-to-government relationships.”

All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman, E. Paul Torres (Isleta) said, “This is a great first step with the City of Albuquerque and surrounding Pueblos working towards a relationship focused on the people in Pueblos and in Albuquerque.”

Councilor Ken Sanchez, who sponsored the bill at the Council level, said, “I was proud to carry this bill forward, and happy the City Council gave it broad support. Tribal communities are a meaningful part of the life of our city. Making sure they are also a meaningful part of the Commission on American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, in a way that recognizes tribal sovereignty and builds on our government-to-government relationships, just makes sense.”