SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico’s highest court has ordered Gov. Susana Martinez to recognize the Fort Sill Apache as a New Mexico tribe.
The state Supreme Court unanimously made the decision Monday after hearing from lawyers in the case.
Tribal chairman Jeff Haozous told reporters after the ruling that state recognition will give the Apaches a “seat at the table” with New Mexico’s other 22 tribes and pueblos.
The governor must invite the tribe to a yearly tribal-state summit.
The federal government designated a 30-acre parcel in southern New Mexico as the tribe’s reservation in 2011, but the Apache governmental offices are in Oklahoma.
There’s a restaurant and smoke shop on the land near Deming, but tribal efforts to open a casino have been blocked. The tribe acquired the land in 1998.