Face to Face cooperation, full-time tribal liaison appointed by NM Department of Cultural Affairs to engage with tribal governments across New Mexico.

August 30, 2023

Stephen Hamway

Santa Fe, NM – Working to build and strengthen vital relationships with the state’s 23 tribal nations, Dr. Gregorio Gonzales was appointed as a full-time tribal liaison earlier this summer by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA).   

In his first few months on the job, Dr. Gonzales traveled across the state, attending feast days and other events from Taos to Zuni Pueblos. He has also worked with NMDCA divisions on developing culturally responsive programming and establishing their own relationships with tribes. As Tribal Liaison, Dr. Gonzales’ goal is to provide tangible contributions to the quality of life and economic well-being of tribal communities under the landmark State Tribal Collaboration Act. The position is based in NMDCA’s Historic Preservation Division (NMHPD). 

“From our work with Tribal libraries to our support for Acoma Pueblo’s learning center, working collaboratively with Tribal governments and organizations across New Mexico is a key part of NMDCA’s mission and vision,” said NMDCA Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego. “Having Dr. Gonzales onboard not only affirms our commitment to this work at a statewide level, but it also gives us more resources to foster future partnerships.” 

The State Tribal Collaboration Act, signed into law in 2009 by Gov. Bill Richardson, provides a framework for state and tribes to work together to develop successful programs and services to benefit New Mexico’s Indigenous citizens. Among other requirements, the STCA requires cabinet-level agencies to designate agency tribal liaisons to promote positive relations between the state and tribal governments. 

“Native nations remain vital to New Mexico’s story,” Dr. Gonzales said. “As the Tribal Liaison with the state’s Department of Cultural Affairs, I am fortunate to work with federally recognized tribal governments, NMDCA agency divisions, and urban Indigenous community organizations in the service of tribal cultural empowerment initiatives now taking shape across the New Mexico homelands. It is an exciting time to amplify tribal voices and creativity in New Mexico!” 

Dr. Gonzales, who is Comanche & Genízaro and hails from the Southwest borderlands, offers a unique perspective on the Tribal Liaison role. Prior to joining NMDCA, Dr. Gonzales completed postdoctoral work at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Colorado College, and The Ohio State University. Earlier this year, he concluded his time teaching as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Native American & Indigenous Studies with the Department of Anthropology at New Mexico State University.  

His work has been featured in the Taos News magazine Tradiciones: Raíces, High Country News, The New York Times, and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” among other outlets. Additionally, his writings have appeared in New Mexico Magazine; RED INK: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities; American Indian Culture and Research Journal; and Trickster. His research and scholarship have been supported by fellowships with the School for Advanced Research, the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry at the New School, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.  

About New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Created in 1978 by the New Mexico Legislature, the Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA) is New Mexico’s cultural steward, charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, eight historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and library programs, NMDCA is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation. Together, the facilities, programs, and services of the Department support a $5.6 billion cultural industry in New Mexico.   

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Dr. Gregorio Gonzales

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