The Ishkoteen Judicial Complex on the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Photo: Bob Nichols / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Leader of Jicarilla Apache Nation stepped down after remarks about 'loose women'

The Jicarilla Apache Nation is choosing a new leader following the resignation of Levi Pesata as president.

After five terms on the council, Pesata stepped down on February 15 for “personal reasons," according to news reports. But Native journalist Harlan McKosato, writing for Indian Country Today, traced the development to comments the former president made about women earlier that month.

On February 2, the tribe hosted a dinner for state lawmakers. During the event, Pesata appeared to make light of the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, according to a thread on social media.

"If any of you are single, we got lots of loose women up there," Pesata said, according to Jennifer Muskrat-Velarde, a tribal citizen.

"The issue of Missing, Murdered and Indigenous women have nothing to do with being 'loose,' as you term it," Muskrat-Velarde wrote in response. "There is nothing loose about us, and may you never forget we are as intertwined as our baskets, and when you say such things, it is endangering so many Jicarilla women, including your own."

Cheryle Koteen, another citizen, confirmed the nature of Pesata's remarks in a comment on Muskrat-Velarde's thread. She said council members who attended the event were upset.

"I'm outraged!!" Koteen wrote. "He said those words at the Jicarilla Legislative dinner that our tribe sponsored for the state legislators."

Two weeks later, Pesata was gone. Reporting for ICT, McKosato suggested that council members pressured him to go.

The tribe is now holding a special election next Wednesday. Muskrat-Velarde is one of the candidates.

"May we never forget the sacrifices of those who came before, for the collective blessings of those today and to come," she wrote on social media. "Together, we can plan and work for a brighter future for all!"

According to ICT, other candidates include vice president Edward Velarde, who is currently serving as Interim president; former president Ty Vicenti; former council member Leon Reval; Violet Garcia; council members Troy Vicenti and Darrell Paiz; and Merrill Guitterrez. Also running is Ouray Muskrat, who is Muskrat-Velarde's brother

The special election is a primary so the top two vote-getters will advance to a general election on May 17, ICT reported.

Read More on the Story
Jicarilla Apache Nation hosting special election for new president after resignation (Indian Country Today April 12, 2019)
Jicarilla Apache Nation President Resigns (The Rio Grande Sun February 21, 2019)
Jicarilla Apache Nation president resigns (The Farmington Daily-Times February 18, 2019)

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