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New Mexico pueblo leadership council gets new chairman

October 28, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A leadership council that represents Native American pueblos across New Mexico has a new chairman.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors announced Tuesday that Wilfred Herrera Jr. of Laguna Pueblo will serve as chairman after J. Michael Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo submitted his resignation. Chavarria cited personal reasons for his decision to step down but didn’t provide any details.

The council is considering whether to hold a special election early next year to fill the remainder of Chavarria’s two-year term.

During his time on the council, Chavarria has been outspoken about issues ranging from education to the protection of cultural sites. He had testified numerous times before state and federal officials this year about extending protection to areas outside the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.

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Chavarria also has served in many roles within his pueblo, including several terms as governor.