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On Oct. 4 city councilors unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the city’s Menaul 4-H Park as a historical and sacred Native American burial ground.

Buried under the about three-acre park are more than 100 bodies of young Native Americans who died while attending the Albuquerque Indian School from 1882 to 1933. Mayor Tim Keller sent the resolution to the council to begin the process of reconciliation and healing.

According to the resolution, between 1869 and the 1960s, the United States Indian Boarding School Policy authorized the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Native American children from their families and relocated them to residential schools. There were five Indian boarding schools in New Mexico. The stated purpose of removal was to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”—often through physical, sexual, psychological and spiritual abuse. Many children ran away, some remained missing or died of the abuse, illness or substandard healthcare provided by the boarding schools. The city acquired the site where the AIS cemetery was located in 1972. 

Dawn Begay, the city’s Native American coordinator, gave the council an informative report about what the city administration is doing to bring about reconciliation and healing. She said the initiative is Native American-led with the city and other partners supporting their decisions. The on-site cemetery came about because when someone died at the boarding school, many of the bodies could not be sent back to their communities, so they were interred on-site. Begay said options include terminating the recreational use of the park and returning the site to a cemetery among other options.

She said remains were found in 1973 when city workers were putting in an irrigation system. “We do not have information about who and the number of Indigenous children buried there,” Begay said. The records were lost when they were transferred to the Santa Fe Indian School.

Begay said stakeholders are working together to come up with a way forward to reconciliation and healing. To say it is about time this unthinkable piece of our history is reconciled is an understatement.

Lead Feet Beware

Speed camera tickets could soon be arriving in your mailbox after councilors approved an “automated speed enforcement” ordinance that enables cameras to be set up around town to identify speeders. Leadfoot drivers will get a $100 civil citation or put in four hours of community service. This should be in place later this fall, according to the city. 

Those in favor of the new initiative say that something had to be done, because city drivers have a problem with going the posted speed limits. As Councilor Isaac Benton said, “We’ve got an increasingly aggressive group of people on the streets, and I think we need to face up to that.”

Councilor Pat Davis was the sole nay vote, saying that a ticket in the mail three weeks later doesn’t stop anybody from speeding at the moment. He added that it is better to incentivize officers to target dangerous drivers instead of creating a surveillance state that polices for profit.

The city has been here before. Back in 2011 the then-City Council—which included Councilor Benton—repealed the red light camera ordinance. But not until more than 50 percent of city voters marched to the polls and said “No” to red-light cameras. Lawsuits were flung about, and Redflex, the red light camera company, settled a $3.5 million class-action lawsuit with Albuquerque drivers.

Mayor Tim Keller said speed cameras could reduce crashes and ease the burden on the police department. He also said that, after getting community input, the city found residents are ready to do something about speeders. Ditto that.

UNM Gets Its Tax District

A petition from the University of New Mexico Regents was approved to set up a South University of New Mexico Campus Tax Increment Development District. A representative from UNM gave a presentation on the plans for the area. The approval outlines how the TIDD will work. The TIDD is being set up to do infrastructure in the area, which is located south of the UNM basketball arena between University Blvd. and I-25. The gross receipts and property taxes will go toward basic infrastructure needs along with an expansion of the Science and Technology Park for more research and development space. There are plans calling for many quality-of-life enhancements such as parks, plazas and walking trails. This is a unique area, as the 312 acres of land is publicly owned by either UNM or the city and not private residents. It will be interesting to see this area grow.

Tidbits

Councilors also approved directing the Civilian Police Oversight Agency director to provide reports about the training status of each of the nine board members. It seems some board members are having a hard time doing the lengthy training. In a separate vote, they approved Jesse Crawford to the CPOA board.

Others appointed to boards or commissions include T. Zane Reeves to the Personnel Board and Leah Nauman (Black) and Tushar Patel to the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board.

Kicking to another meeting councilors deferred a memorial in support of efforts by city, county and state agencies to end the drivers of crime—especially firearms and recidivism. They also postponed making road improvements to 118th Street from I-40 to Senator Dennis Chavez a priority. And after hearing from a representative of the owner, the council deferred declaring 1804 High Street a nuisance.

Mandy’s Farm was recognized with a proclamation honoring their commitment to helping individuals with disabilities gain employment skills and for creating inclusive work communities. Check them out at mandysfarm.org

The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 3pm, Monday, Oct. 18. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.

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