The Sandoval Signpost

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Earthquakes watched in New Mexico

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources published the most recent issue of its newsletter Lite Geology which focuses on earthquakes. One article mentions that the magma bodies beneath Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains and the area around Socorro are being monitored by scientists at New Mexico Tech and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information, visit and

The second featured article, “New Mexico Earthquakes: Mid-1800s through 1998,” discusses the strengths and frequencies of earthquakes in New Mexico, primarily the area surrounding Socorro, referred to as the Socorro Seismic Anomaly (SSA). “The area within the SSA occupies 1.6% of the total area of the state,” the article notes, “but accounts for 37% of the earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, and 47% of the earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater.

Lite Geology is devoted to increasing Earth science awareness by showcasing contemporary geological topics, issues, and events in an easily understood, fun-to-read format. Subscriptions to the magazine are available free of charge for New Mexico residents.

For further information about this award-winning publication, or any other NMBGMR publications, write to the Bureau Publications Office, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801, or call 505-835-5410, or visit


Historical society hosts gatherings of families, clans

Jaime Baca The Sandoval County Historical Society offers a series of family gatherings held during Sunday afternoon Open House at the Delavy House Museum in Bernalillo. The series began last October with the Aguilar-Roybal family. On November 18, the Baca, C deBaca, and Montoya families of Peña Blanca celebrated, with family histories given by Bertille Baca, Lovey Correa, Molly Andrews, Reuben Montoya, Phillip Andrews, Jaime Baca, and Rudy Montoya. Guests viewed a photo collection and shared hilarious memories with the family members while new photos and family records were added to the collection.

In January, the Chavez clan will gather, as will families who worked in the timber industry. February will host the Gurule-Archibeque families. In March families from the villages of San Luis, Cabezon, Guadalupe, and Casa Salazar will come together. Members of the community who belong to these various groups are all invited to attend. The public is welcome at any Sunday afternoon Open House. They are held at the Delavy House Museum in Bernalillo from 2 to 4:00 p.m. For further information, call Martha Liebert, 867-2755.

Photo caption: Jaime Baca speaks about his family history at Sandoval County Historical Society’s family-gathering program.


Leadership at AIO passes to next generation

Beth Wojahn

681 Juniper Hill Road, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004. Americans for Indian Opportunity headquarters. And when you think of “headquarters,” doesn't a tall, gray building with lots of windows and a coffee shop on the first floor come to mind? It's what I think of, which is why I thought I was lost when I found myself on a dirt road leading to a large house, with a large garage. The building in between the two, I was told via cell phone because I doubted my keen direction-following skills, was actually AIO headquarters.

As I walked toward the door, the view of the bosque and Sandia Mountains was breathtaking. An L-shaped pool was covered for the season. How could anyone think of business in this atmosphere?

I soon found out what AIO is all about from LaDonna and Laura Harris, the dynamic Comanche mother-daughter activist team who run the nonprofit organization. I also discovered that despite the seemingly distracting setting, a lot of important, creative work goes on.

Photo caption: Laura and LaDonna Harris

    The Projects

Although AIOis LaDonna's brainchild, Laura clearly explained AIO's basic philosophy. "It's the idea that indigenous people of the world have something to contribute—our values, our philosophy, our alternate world view. In order to do that, we have to be strong, self-determining communities, and we have to be secure in our own cultural identity," she said.

Part of AIO’s work involves facilitating meetings using a computer software program called the Indigenous Leaders Interactive System. Laura describes ILIS as "a contemporary method based on traditional values."

AIO uses ILIS to help federal, state, and tribal governments and agencies in managing some of the issues they have. "It really focuses on finding underlying causes to problems, and the only way to really attack problems is to look at those underlying causes instead of just putting Band-Aids on the symptomatic problems," Laura said, "and ILIS allows us to study the underlying causes."

Here's an example of how it works. AIO facilitates a forum or a series of meetings. The tribe or organization may have a particular problem they want to work on. AIO uses the software to record everyone's ideas and study the impacts and influences they have upon one another. AIO has worked with the Department of Energy and the state’s DWI program—to name a couple—and is currently working with the Eastern Shoshone Tribe to help them create a strategic plan.

AIO's number-one focus is leadership development. They've developed a two-year Ambassadors Program for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five.

From some two hundred applicants, sixteen people from around the country are chosen by AIO's national and international advisory council to participate. The first year, the ambassadors meet three times, in three different places.

"The first class comes here," explained LaDonna, "and we use the house to give them a safe environment so they can talk about where they get their medicine, where do their strengths come from, who are you in relationship to your family, your tribe. Because that ‘who are you’ helps them get a clear focus on their own identity and their own relationships and the strengths and weakness of their own. It gets very emotional. It's a very beautiful thing."

The second meeting is in Washington, D.C, where these future leaders get a national perspective, and the third is somewhere outside the United States to get a global perspective. The last two meetings during the second year are held in tribal communities, either rural or urban.

Besides all the travelling, ambassadors must be involved in a project within their communities which will benefit the community and develop their personal and professional leadership skills. They have lots of material to read before each gathering and must present a family and tribal history to the group. And in the process, they build a huge network.

"We don't want to take the person away from their community. What we want to do is add skills, provide them with new skills, networks, and resources that enable them to be of more benefit to their community," Laura explains.


    Smooth Transition of Intergenerational Leadership

LaDonna recently passed the "executive director torch" to her daughter Laura, who grew up within the organization. I asked Laura why LaDonna was stepping down as AIO's president and for the first time Laura seemed to look at her mom as a daughter seeking guidance. LaDonna laughed and quickly answered by saying, "She was doing all the heavy work officially anyway, and I am trying to slow down some."

And just as quickly, the moment was over and Laura answered as the executive director she was groomed to become. "I was projects director and then executive vice president over the last ten years and so it was just natural to step in the executive directorship."

LaDonna also sees the change in command as living up to what they're trying to do in the program. "We're trying to pass the torch to the next generation because they need to develop their own view of how things ought to be done."

As far as running things differently, Laura only admits to having a different leadership style than her mother and that their partnership will continue. "She's been very involved in the overall vision of the organization and its future directions working closely with the board of directors, and I've been involved in creating and implementing the detail-oriented work of creating the program, so I still see it as a symbiotic relationship that really is not changing. It's just kind of a change in titles."

After the interview was over, I walked outside and took in the view one more time. A soft wind caught my back as I scoffed at the American for Indian Opportunity headquarters I had initially conjured up in my mind. Grey buildings and lots of windows . . . what was I thinking?

[Editor's Note: Beth Wojahn also spoke individually with LaDonna Harris. Read what she learned about this extraordinary woman in next month's Signpost.]






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