Headlines: Powwow Returns To ABQ, Dems Choose Haaland As Party Chair...

Apr 25, 2015

Credit Smithsonian Institution via flickr.com

New Mexico Democrats Choose Haaland As New Party Chair - The Associated Press 

A Democratic activist and tribal administrator from Albuquerque is the new leader of New Mexico's Democratic Party.

Debra Haaland became the first Native American to lead a state party in New Mexico on Saturday following a Democratic State Central Committee meeting at a high school gym in Albuquerque.

The 54-year-old, who ran for lieutenant governor last year, beat Santa Fe County party chairman Richard Ellenberg by a vote of 214 to 168.

Haaland replaces Sam Bregman.

Bregman decided not to seek a second term after the party's historic election loss in November that saw Republicans gain control of the New Mexico House for the first time in 60 years.

Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, says she plans to start soliciting for more funds and doing outreach for minority voters.

North America's Largest Powwow Draws Thousands To New MexicoThe Associated Press

Droves of Native American and other indigenous performers and spectators have converged in New Mexico for the 32nd annual Gathering of Nations, North America's largest powwow. Here are some things to know about the event:


More than 3,000 dancers, drummers and singers representing some 700 tribes from the United States and Canada typically attend the three-day festival in Albuquerque. The competitions also draw tens of thousands of spectators from around the world.

This year's celebration started Thursday.


Dancers file into the arena in a large procession during grand entries Friday and Saturday.

They don traditional costumes with colorful beads, feathers, fringed leather and bells. Their pounding feet keep time with beating drums as they funnel into the bottom of the University of New Mexico arena, better known as The Pit.

The participants join the procession in a specific order and then twist toward the arena's center. The formation gets tighter with each pass until the floor is packed.

Grand entries can last close to an hour.


Twenty-one women are competing this year for the crown of Miss Indian World. The contest is one of the largest and most prestigious cultural pageants for young Native women.

They're judged on public speaking, dance, traditional presentations and more.

Current Miss Indian World Taylor Thomas will pass on the crown to this year's winner Saturday. The winner will spend the next year traveling internationally, serving as a role model and cultural ambassador.


This year's powwow was preceded by a special gathering to kick off a White House initiative called Generation-Indigenous, or Gen-I.

About 300 Native youth from across the country met Thursday to discuss individual community projects aimed at tackling some of the challenges faced by American Indian and Alaska Native teens, from high suicide rates to low graduation rates.

Some of the teens will reconvene this summer in Washington, D.C.


Like any good gathering, the powwow has music, vendors and fry bread.

At the Indian Traders Market, more than 800 artisans and crafters show off their wares. On Stage 49 near the arena, Native American musicians perform a range of genres, including country, reggae, rap and rhythm and blues.


Organizers expect anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 visitors, providing a boost to Albuquerque's hospitality industry.

According to a recent study by the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the Gathering of Nations has had an average annual economic impact of about $21 million over the past five years.

Native Youth Kick Off Generation Indigenous Challenge - Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

Janay Jumping Eagle is on a mission to curb teen suicide in her hometown on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Dahkota Brown of the Wilton Band of Miwok Indians in California wants to keep American Indian and Alaska Native students on track toward graduation.

The teenagers are at the heart of Generation Indigenous, or Gen-I, a White House initiative that kicked off this week with a brainstorming session that coincided with thousands of indigenous people gathering in New Mexico for North America's largest powwow.

The initiative stems from a visit last year by President Barack Obama to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The goal is to improve the lives of tribal youth by challenging them to tackle some of the problems that have plagued Indian Country for decades.

State Police Probe: Albuquerque Officer Used Excessive Force The Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say their investigation has concluded that an Albuquerque police officer used excessive force during a call for service last month.

They say 24-year-old Officer Cedric Greer punched an individual in the head several times and struck the individual's chest enough to cause bruising on March 20.

Witnesses say the individual was cooperative before and after the battery.

The name and age of the person isn't immediately available.

Greer turned himself into State Police on Friday night.

Authorities say he's been booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on suspicion of misdemeanor aggravated battery.

It's unclear if Greer has an attorney yet.

ENMU Board Approve School Dropping Zia Name And Symbol The Associated Press

Eastern New Mexico University's board of regents has approved the school dropping the use of the Zia sun symbol and name for the women's sports teams.

University officials say the cost of discontinuing use of the symbol will be minimal and the policy will go into effect as soon as possible.

Both the ENMU men's and women's teams now will be called Greyhounds.

The Portales-based university has used the "Zias" name for women's sports teams since 1981.

The Zia symbol is a circle with four lines in each cardinal direction. It accompanies a Greyhound in some university logos.

ENMU president Steven Gamble says the university is taking the action out of respect for the sparsely-populated Zia Pueblo, which originated the Zia sun symbol.

Police: 2 Arrested After Incident With Officers In Hobbs – The Associated Press

New Mexico State Police have released the names of two people involved in an incident in which one of them allegedly exchanged gunfire with two Lea County Task Force officers in Hobbs.

Hobbs police say 19-year-old Vrisela Machuca and 25-year-old Jonathan V. Soto were arrested after the April 14 incident.

Police say investigators recovered a pistol and an AK-47 at the scene and found spent shell casings near the weapons.

Investigators say Soto allegedly fired the rifle at officers in the ordeal.

Police say he is accused of six counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm, cocaine and marijuana possession, and paraphernalia possession.

It's unclear if Machuca faces any charges.

State court records don't show any pending cases against her.