Black Eagle Drum Group from the Jemez Pueblo performed a welcome song for NCAI delegates. Native News Online photographs by Levi Rickert
Published October 22, 2019
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Local Planning Committee (LPC), consisting of tribal leaders, business owners and communities members from New Mexico, welcome over 1,500 leaders, advocates and service providers to Albuquerque for the NCAI 76th Annual Convention and Marketplace for a week of intense and impactful discussions and presentations centered on the theme of Sovereignty in Action. NCAI is the largest and oldest national advocacy organization focused on protecting and preserving tribal sovereignty, government-to-government relationships and Indigenous rights for all 573 Tribes, Pueblos and Nations across the country.
“The Local Planning Committee (LPC) is pleased to work with NCAI over the last three months to help bring our New Mexico issues to a national scale and welcome Tribal Nations to celebrate our Southwest culture and arts during two key convention events – the welcome reception and culture night,” said Joe Garcia who is the LPC co-chair, NCAI Southwest Regional
Vice President and Ohkay Owingeh tribal councilman. “The NCAI convention brings together the heavy-hitters in Indian Country. We need those dedicated people and Tribes willing to fight to protect our sovereignty. We’re at a point where we’re seeing a lot of legislation and court decisions that significantly affect Tribes, and not in a good way. NCAI is where the planning and strategizing happens to refine our collective approach to accomplish our goals.”
Delegates from throughout Indian Council registered on Monday morning.
The Local Planning Committee assisted NCAI with preparing for this year’s annual convention sessions and events, including the welcome reception on Monday, October 21 that includes special messages from local Tribes and officials, and a culture night on Wednesday, October 23 that highlights New Mexico Tribes and their respective cultural lifestyles through a fashion show, music, traditional dances from the Zuni Pueblo and Navajo Nation, as well as an artist
The six-day convention that began on Sunday with task force meetings on pressing issues, such as violence against Native women, tribal borders and addiction, officially commences today with an opening ceremony dedicated to messages from local officials. A key issue important to the well-being of Tribes across the U.S. and New Mexico and presented at the convention is the 2020 Census. Native American communities are considered ‘hard to count’ because of major challenges, including the rural location of tribal communities, language barriers and the lack of internet access. The lack of internet access poses a direct challenge to a Tribe’s ability to ensure an accurate count as U.S. residents will be able to go online to answer Census questions next year for the first time in history.
“We must also address the need to ensure that urban Indian populations are accurately counted. Urban Indian populations often pose a different set of challenges, which will require a well-thought out set of strategies. But the more serious fallout from an undercount is that it will perpetuate what Tribes and NCAI have been battling for decades – inequities and
disenfranchisement,” said Conroy Chino from Acoma Pueblo, who is the other co-chair of the local NCAI planning committee.
A significant undercount could have major fiscal and programmatic repercussion for Tribes and tribal communities. The federal government’s trust obligations to the Tribes are reliant on population figures, especially when it comes to funding. An undercount means tribal governments and their respective communities will be impacted with less Congressional funding for federal agencies, such as, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Indian Health Service (IHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as Impact Aid, Infrastructure and support for tribal economies.
Learn more about NCAI at: www.ncai.org.