April 2, 2009 by Andi Murphy Round Up
Speech will feature a picnic and discussion time for Native American
On April 7 at 1 p.m. at the lawn west of the Educational Services building, the NMSU and Las Cruces community is welcome to listen to the State of Indian Nations address by Joe A. Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians.
Garcia’s State of Indian Nations address is an annual address, much like the U.S. president’s State of the Union address, dealing with Native American issues. The NMSU Indian Resource Development program is coordinating the event as a second part of their Distinguished Tribal Leaders Speaker Series.
“He’s [Garcia] all about students,” said Joe Graham, director of the Indian Resource Development program. “It should be a nice little outdoor event.”
Graham said most Native American students come from Northern New Mexico. When they’re down here they rely on news coming from distant sources about theirs, and other tribes at the national level.
Garcia will inform the whole community about subjects which concern the tribes across the country.
A picnic, free for Native American students and their invited guests, will kick off the event at noon, prior to the address. This is a chance for attendees to talk with Garcia.
“The State of Indian Nations is more promising and more hopeful than it has ever been in this new era of self-determination,” Garcia said in his address in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 10, according to ncai.org.
Some of the topics Garcia will speak of include President Obama’s pledge to designate an American Indian policy adviser on his senior White House staff, the addition of Native Americans in economic recovery and health care. He will also address the public safety and education of Native Americans, according to ncai.org.
The NCAI is a united tribal organization including more than 250 tribes who work closely with the government to inform them of tribal issues and their sovereign rights, according to ncai.org. The NCAI also works toward informing the public about Native American people, preserving rights enforced by past treaties and Native American welfare.
Garcia, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly the San Juan Pueblo), is also a chairman on the All-Indian Pueblo Council, which includes all 19 New Mexico Pueblo tribes.
“He’s one of our key representatives to the federal administration,” said Justin McHorse, director of the NMSU American Indian Program.
McHorse has been advertising Garcia’s State of Indian Nations address on the AIP bulletin. He said it is important for students and everyone else in the community to hear this address and to recognize the types of issues Native Americans face.
McHorse said it could be a very enriching experience to have a highly esteemed Native American leader, such as Garcia, come to NMSU to talk to young students who are on their way to becoming professionals.
“I think it’s fantastic for the IRD to have him come down here,” McHorse said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”