Charlotte Little. Photo: City of Albuquerque
National | Politics

Pueblo woman put in charge of elections in largest city in New Mexico

Charlotte Little, a citizen of the Pueblo of San Felipe, has been appointed as the new clerk for the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico.

In her role, Little will oversee all elections in Albuquerque, the most populous city in the state. She will also be in charge of local government records, including those affecting lobbyists and campaigns, and of administrative hearings.

"I'm delighted to bring Charlotte on board as our new city clerk," Mayor Tim Keller (D) said in a news release on Wednesday. "Her past experience in tribal administration and working with a host of other government agencies will be extremely beneficial in the city clerk's office. The city is in good hands with Charlotte leading this crucial office."

Little previously served as an administrator and director of human resources for her tribe, whose homelands are about 30 miles north of downtown Albuquerque. She also worked for the Indian Health Service, a federal agency, in the city.

According to the mayor, Little is one of the first Native American women to lead a department in Albuquerque. About 4.6 percent of the population in the city is Native, and there are several reservations within close distance.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors, which represents the 20 Pueblo tribes in New Mexico and Texas, is based in the city and runs several businesses there. The Gathering of Nations, which is billed as the largest powwow in North America, takes place in Albuquerque every April.

In addition to the IHS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians also operate headquarters in the city.

Despite the strong Native presence, Native people are under-represented in municipal life. They also face discrimination and, in some instances, are targeted for crime.

Mayor Keller, who describes himself as a "lifelong heavy metal fan" on his social media accounts, called attention to the disparities during his campaign last year. He vowed to include Native Americans in his administration and develop programs and services to address the needs of Native residents. He took office on December 1.