McKosato: Catching up with Indian Affairs Secretary

"I've written about the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department in this column before, but only in passing.

What exactly does Indian Affairs do? I talked with new Cabinet Secretary Alvin Warren, from Santa Clara Pueblo, to educate myself. I caught up with Warren after he had time to decompress from an action-packed 30-day legislative session.

If you attended any of the legislative sessions and followed the IAD staff around the capitol, you'd think that their sole mission is to make sure the state's tribes get their fair share of the governor's and the legislature's capital-outlay allocations.

"Certainly the number one thing tribes come to state government for is capital outlay for infrastructure projects. That's been a principal issue since this office was established," said Warren.

The IAD was elevated to department status by executive order in 2003 and by statute in 2004. It is the first and only Indian Affairs office in the U.S. that operates at the cabinet level.

The number of projects has not increased in the past few years. According to Warren's numbers, there were 615 Indian projects funded in 2006, 670 in '07, and 614 this year. But he points out that the IAD only serves as an managing liaison, negotiating agreements with the tribes and following up to make sure the projects are completed. He said capital outlay is not necessarily why the department was established."

Get the Story:
Harlan McKosato: How does Indian Affairs operate? (The Santa Fe New Mexican 2/24)

Relevant Links:
Native America Calling -

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