Chicago Museum Delays Southwestern Pottery Exhibit, State Adopts Minimum Wage Increase

Apr 2, 2019

Art Institute Delays Native American Exhibit Amid ConcernsAssociated Press

The Art Institute of Chicago has indefinitely postponed a major pottery exhibit weeks before it was due to open, citing concerns that the culture and voices of indigenous peoples aren't adequately represented.

Some Native American scholars complained that much of the Mimbres pottery pledged by a Chicago collector to the Art Institute had come from ancestral gravesites.

The Art Institute said in Monday's news release that the delay came after officials were given feedback about the need to collaborate with "Native American nations who hold connections to the Mimbres people."

"Worlds Within: Mimbres Pottery of the Ancient Southwest" was scheduled to begin May 26. The exhibit displays roughly 70 pieces of pottery from the Mimbres people. The pottery was created around A.D. 1100 in present-day southwestern New Mexico.

This story has been corrected to show that a Chicago collector was not personally involved in the removal of artifacts from ancestral gravesites.

New Mexico Courts Outdoor Recreation EconomyAssociated Press

New Mexico is seeking a bigger share of the nation's outdoor recreation economy with the creation of a special division dedicated to expanding the state's foothold in the lucrative industry.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham traveled to a state park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains Tuesday to sign legislation that creates a state outdoor recreation office.

The initiative takes cues from states including neighboring Colorado that promote outdoor adventure as an engine of economic development and a resource for public health and consciousness about natural wonders.

Democratic state Rep. Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces says New Mexico has added a unique component to subsidize outdoor experiences for children of the working poor from diverse backgrounds who might not otherwise have the time or means to explore nature.

Judge Rules For Native American Pueblos In Revenue DisputeSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A federal magistrate judge has ruled that the state has no right to the tens of millions of dollars in back revenue it charged six northern New Mexico pueblos.

The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported on Monday that the New Mexico Gaming Control Board contended that the Native American tribes owed New Mexico more than $60 million, by some estimates, for revenues earned from so-called free-play credits — the popular, randomly distributed gambling credits that casinos load onto gambling cards to entice gamblers to play slots.

The acting executive director of the state's Gaming Control Board, Donovan Lieurance, whose members are defendants in the case, says he only recently was made aware of the case and cannot comment.

A spokeswoman for the governor's office says Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is reviewing the case.

Bills In Congress Would Implement Drought Plan In WestAssociated Press

Federal legislation has been introduced on a plan to address the shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West.

Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced identical bills Tuesday and vowed to move them quickly through the chambers. Lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have spent years crafting drought contingency plans. They aim to keep two key Colorado River reservoirs from falling so low that they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower.

The states want congressional approval by April 22 so that Mexico will join some states in contributing water to Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border.

The drought plans got their first congressional hearings last week.

US Resorts To Expanded 'Catch And Release' As Migrants SurgeAssociated Press

The surge of migrants arriving at the southern border has led the Trump administration to dramatically expand a practice it has long mocked as "catch and release."

With processing and holding centers overwhelmed, the administration is busing migrants hundreds of miles inland and releasing them at Greyhound stations and churches in cities like Albuquerque, San Antonio and Phoenix because relief organizations in towns close to the border cannot keep up with the flow.

Since Dec. 21, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has set free about 108,500 people who came as families. On some days, more than 1,000 people were released in Texas' Rio Grande Valley alone.

San Antonio received part of that surge in recent days, forcing the city to open a help center for migrants arriving at the downtown bus station.

New Mexico Adopts First Minimum Wage Increase In A Decade - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed into law the first statewide minimum wage increase in a decade.

Signed Monday, the legislation raises the state's hourly base wage gradually from $7.50 to $12 in 2023. The first increase to $9 an hour begins at the start of next year.

Union activists and advocates for low-wage workers celebrated the new law with cheers and live mariachi music outside the governor's office in the state Capitol.

Lujan Grisham campaigned on establishing an hourly $12 minimum wage. Democratic House and Senate sponsors of the legislation say it will help feed and clothe children, while allowing rural businesses time to adjust.

Local governments including Santa Fe and the county encompassing Albuquerque already have higher minimum wage requirements than the state.

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan Announces Senate Run - Associated Press

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is making a run for the state's open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

The Democrat had been consulting for weeks with family and supporters about getting into the race and announced his decision Monday in a video posted on Twitter.

He says the Senate needs fixing in the video that was recorded on Lujan's New Mexico farm.

Lujan holds the No. 4 leadership post in the House. He says he will formally launch his campaign in the coming weeks.

Lujan so far is the most prominent Democrat to make a bid for the seat being vacated by Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, who isn't seeking a third term.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he would not run, citing personal and professional reasons.

New Mexico State Lawmaker Will Seek US House Seat - Associated Press

Democratic state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde says he plans to run for an open U.S. congressional seat representing northern New Mexico in 2020.

Sanchez made the announcement Monday on Twitter after U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Nambé indicated he will run for Senate in 2020 to succeed Sen. Tom Udall. Luján and Udall are Democrats.

An electrical engineer by trade, Sanchez says he wants to improve the quality of life in northern New Mexico in areas of public health, economic development and human rights.

Udall announced last week that he won't seek a third term in office.

New Mexico Lays Regulatory Groundwork For Hemp Production - Associated Press

Legislation that clears the way for the industrial production of hemp and related products in New Mexico has been signed into law.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed a bill that establishes a state regulatory framework for an emerging hemp industry.

State oversight responsibilities are spread across the New Mexico departments of agriculture, health and environment.

Bill sponsor and state Rep. Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo said the legislation aims to help farmers and manufacturers comply with federal and state law as they develop products including hemp textiles and hemp-derived cannabidiol.

The legislation allows federally recognized Native American communities to develop their own regulations and licensing procedures.

Cannabidiol also is known as CBD oil and has become increasingly popular as a health product.

New Law Mandates Transparency For New Mexico Land Office - Associated Press

The New Mexico State Land Office will be required to give public notice before taking any action on proposed land sales, exchanges or right of way permits for certain projects under a measure signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Democratic governor and Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard gathered for the bill signing Monday in Santa Fe.

The transparency requirements will apply to projects that involve large-scale electrical transmission lines and oil and gas pipelines that cross state trust land.

Garcia Richard already implemented the changes administratively after taking office earlier this year, but the law will require future land commissioners to provide the same level of transparency.

The law also calls for public meetings to be held near the location of the proposed activity.

Struggling New Mexico Hospital Still Behind On Utility Bills - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

A struggling hospital in western New Mexico near the Navajo Nation is behind on utility bills and its lease payments.

The Gallup Independent reports Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital currently owes around $47,000 to the city of Gallup for utilities. The hospital also owes nearly $2 million in back lease payments for the use of the hospital building that belongs to McKinley County.

The news comes after hospital CEO David Conejo said three months ago that the hospital will show a profit of several millions of dollars in 2018. He said that will allow the hospital to catch up on its past debts.

Conejo announced in June that 20 of the hospital's 540 employees were on furlough to reduce cost.

Mexican American Scholars Gather In New Mexico Amid Worry - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Mexican American scholars from universities across the country are gathering in New Mexico for an annual national conference amid uncertainty.

Members of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies are scheduled Wednesday to start their four-day conference in Albuquerque as President Donald Trump ponders closing a section of the southern U.S-Mexico border.

The conference also comes amid reports a storied Mexican American student group is considering a name change stemming from a dispute over the word "Chicano."

Chicano, which means Mexican Americans, gained popularity during the militant Chicano Movement of the 1970s.

Founded in 1972, the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies supports Mexican American academics in social sciences, the arts and the humanities. The group pushes for faculty diversity at the nation's universities.

New Mexico Officials Eye New Film Studio Near Navajo Nation - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Officials in northwestern New Mexico are hoping Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs a bill that could open a film studio near the Navajo Nation.

The Farmington Daily Times reports San Juan County is waiting for the governor to sign a capital outlay bill that includes $1 million for construction of a film studio in Farmington.

New Mexico Film Office locations coordinator Don Gray says the Four Corners' distinctive terrain gives it a leg up for filmmakers pursuing a one-of-a-kind setting.

The area has been the site of film projects like "The Lone Ranger" and "Transformers," and the television series "Stargate Universe."

Northwestern New Mexico officials have been trying to identify economic development opportunities as they grapple with the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022.