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Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians tribal citizen Josett Monette was unanimously confirmed as cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department on Monday by the New Mexico Senate.

“Secretary Monette’s extensive background in serving indigenous people uniquely positions her to address the challenges facing our tribal communities and realize the opportunities,” New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham said. “I thank the New Mexico Senate for their unanimous support in confirming Secretary Monette, reflecting the widespread recognition of her qualifications and leadership.” 

Prior to joining the state, Monette was the New Mexico Legal Aid Native American Program Director. She is an Adjunct Professor for the University of New Mexico School of Law National Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Team.

“I am beyond humbled, honored and appreciative of the governor and the Legislature placing their trust in me,” said Secretary Monette. “I am committed to advancing the priorities of this administration in support of the 23 tribal nations, (tribes and pueblos), and all of New Mexico’s Native people and fostering a respectful and productive dialogue between the state and sovereign nations.”

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She recently served as a Commissioner for the Pueblo of Tesuque Gaming Commission. Previously, she worked as a Staff Attorney at NMLA Native American Program, an Associate General Counsel for the Pueblo of Isleta, and as an Associate Attorney with Barnhouse, Keegan, Solimon, & West, LLP, an Indian law firm in Albuquerque which provides representation to tribes and tribal businesses throughout the country. Monette served on the Board of Directors for the New Mexico State Bar Indian Law Section for seven years and sits as an Attorney Bar Exam Coach.  

She holds a JD with a certificate in Indian Law from the UNM School of Law, as well as a master’s in educational leadership, bachelor of science in secondary education and bachelor of arts in American Indian Studies from the University of North Dakota.

Prior to her legal career, Secretary Monette was an educator and worked in education mostly on her home reservation in the Turtle Mountain Community. She raised three children as a single mother.

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