ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. joined New Mexico Secretary of Indian Affairs Benny Shendo Jr., four cabinet secretaries and the leaders of several New Mexico pueblos and tribes last week to sign a procedure to ensure tribal consultation in health care and human services matters.
The protocol grew out of an executive order by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that directed state agencies and departments to develop plans to consult with tribes. Work began a year-and-a-half ago at the first New Mexico Health and Human Services' Tribal Consultation meeting in Albuquerque.
"Gov. Richardson mandated his cabinet secretaries and his agencies to develop tribal consultation, or a process in which to communicate with Indian tribes within the state of New Mexico," said Roselyn Begay, director of the Navajo Division of Health Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. "That authorized the secretaries to move forward with the governor's policy. "
Five New Mexico state departments worked together to develop a system to work with 22 of the tribes and pueblos in New Mexico.
At the New Mexico Health and Human Services' State-Tribal Summit June 21, Shirley expressed his appreciation to Governor Richardson for his initiative to include Native people at the table when issues affecting them are discussed and decisions are being made.