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About Us

Since 2003 the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) has implemented groundbreaking state-tribal policies intended to improve the quality of life for the state’s Indian citizens.

IAD’s policy initiatives are designed to strengthen tribal and state relations and address the challenges we face in our communities; challenges such as economic development, infrastructure improvement, the protection of our cultures and languages, health care accessibility, and educational opportunities for our most precious resource, our children.

On our website, you will learn more about the wonderful work IAD is doing for New Mexico and for the Indian citizens of our great state. As the first cabinet level state Indian affairs department in the nation, we continue to set the standard for what is possible when state and tribal governments work together to address mutual concerns in respectful and positive dialogue between sovereign governments.


Our vision is that tribal nations, tribal communities and Indigenous people are happy, healthy and prosperous and that traditional ways of life are honored, valued and respected.


The NM Indian Affairs Department is committed to be a resource by:

  • Advocating for tribal interests at state and federal levels through policy and legislative work;
  • Supporting tribes with access to resources, technical assistance and funding opportunities; and Connecting tribes with the executive branch, other tribes and with the tools and resources they need to be self-governing and self-sufficient.


The Commission on Indian Affairs was established in 1955 through state law (1955 NM Laws, Chp. 162, Sec. 1-7) to investigate, study and consider Indian conditions and relations. In 1975 the Commission’s name was changed to the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) and two more duties were added: to coordinate inter-governmental program concerning tribal governments and the state of New Mexico and to set policy for all state programs affecting Indians of New Mexico. Former Governor Bill Richardson signed Executive Order No. 2003-022 on June 20, 2003, elevating the OIA to a cabinet level department and renamed the Indian Affairs Department (IAD). In April 2004, House bill 39 formerly established the IAD.

In 2004 the IAD had ten staff members, including the cabinet secretary. Currently the IAD has 16 staff members and continues to grow.

The IAD’s first cabinet secretary was Benny Shendo Jr. IAD has had a total of eight secretaries: Benny Shendo Jr., Alvin Warren, Arthur Allison, Kelly K. Zunie, Suzette A. Shije, Lynn Trujillo, James R. Mountain, and Josette Monette.

History of IAD

IAD Strategic Plan

We are pleased to share the fiscal year 2023 strategic plan for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD). IAD leads the intergovernmental and interagency coordination of programs and matters that concern tribal governments and the State of New Mexico.

New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Fiscal Year 2023 Strategic Plan

Our priorities for FY23:

  • Continue building capacity by creating and filling six new positions secured during the 2022 legislative session.
  • Update the Department’s policies and procedures to standardize best practices.
  • Publish a consultation guidebook to enhance state-tribal consultation across state agencies.
  • Create a program to support Nations, Pueblos, and Tribes to address suicide in tribal communities.