1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. History


In 1953, the New Mexico Legislature created the Commission on Indian Affairs (“Commission”) by statute.  The statute established the Commission as a state agency whose purpose was to investigate, study and consider Indian conditions and relations.  The Commission’s statute was amended in 1975 and an Office of Indian Affairs (“Office”) was created.  Additional duties were added for the Office which included coordinating intergovernmental programs concerning tribe governments and the State of New Mexico and to set policy for all state programs affecting Indians of New Mexico. 

On June 30, 2003, former Governor Bill Richardson signed Executive Order 2003-022, which elevated the Office to a cabinet level Department.  In 2004, the New Mexico Legislature passed HB 39, which formally established the Indian Affairs Department (“IAD”).  Under HB 39, IAD was appropriated $527,000 and established two divisions: Administrative Services and Program Services.  At that time, IAD had ten (10) staff members, including the Cabinet Secretary.  Senator Benny Shendo, Jr. was IAD’s first Cabinet Secretary.  Since IAD’s inception, there have been eight (8) Cabinet Secretaries. 

Currently, IAD has 16 staff members including the Cabinet Secretary, Josett D. Monette, Esq. and the two Deputy Secretaries, Seth Damon and Janelle Frederick.  IAD continues to expand to accommodate the growing needs of New Mexico’s Nations, Pueblos and Tribes. 

History of IAD