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Funds set up to help New Mexico tribes and pueblos

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Two funds have launched to ensure emergency supplies reach New Mexico’s Native communities.

New Mexico Department of Health data shows that Native Americans, who represent about 11% of the state’s population, make up about 41% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Pueblo Relief Fund

The All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center created the Pueblo Relief Fund to help the state’s 19 pueblos. The fund was kickstarted by a $30,000 donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

The money will buy masks, food and cleaning supplies in bulk from the center’s vendors to be donated to pueblo governments and distributed among tribal members.

The first food delivery purchased with the fund will be on Thursday, said Beverlee McClure, vice president of culture and community engagement at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

“Pueblo artisans and hospitality workers have lost their incomes,” McClure said. “The pueblos don’t have the financial reserves to address this once-in-a-lifetime situation … . But these new funds are wonderful in showing New Mexico and the nation are recognizing tribes as part of our heritage, our culture and our economic base.”

J. Michael Chavarria, Santa Clara Pueblo governor and chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, said pueblo budgets are at the breaking point.

“Our pueblos in New Mexico voluntarily closed our casinos at great financial cost in order to prioritize the health of tribal members and our non-Indian neighbors, as well,” Gov. Chavarria said during a virtual roundtable discussion Friday. “Several pueblos anticipate losses of $10 million.”

New Mexico Gas contributed $25,000 to the Pueblo Relief Fund, while the New Mexico Community Foundation and Albuquerque Community Foundation each donated $10,000. McClure said individual donations have reached about $46,000.

To donate, visit https://pueblorelieffund.org.

Native American Relief Fund

The New Mexico Community Foundation created the Native American Relief Fund with the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs.

The fund will provide emergency grants for tribal governments and nonprofits to buy food, water, masks and cleaning supplies for Navajo, Apache and Pueblo communities.

JoAnn Melchor, president and CEO of the New Mexico Community Foundation, said the project aims to raise $3 million.

“We are focused on hearing community voices, letting them tell us what they need,” Melchor said. “We’re looking at what we can do now with this money to support communities in the future with things like infrastructure.”

Melchor said the Thornburg Foundation committed to a $50,000 contribution, the Water Foundation committed $25,000 and the LANL Foundation committed $5,000.

Donations can be made at https://nmcf.org/programs/native/ or by calling (505) 356-4110.

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