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Press Release: Honoring SFIS Trustee Joe Garcia

May 12, 2023

Press Release: Honoring SFIS Trustee Joe Garcia

Official Press Release from Santa Fe Indian School

Date: May 12, 2023

SANTA FE, N.M. – SFIS acknowledges the passing away of its Board of Trustee Vice-President, Mr. Joe Garcia on May 11, 2023. SFIS Board of Trustee President, Robyn Aguilar remarks, “With love we release our brother, father, and friend Joe Garcia back to our creator.  His work in Indian County will not be forgotten. I am truly thankful to have had a mentor who was courageous in his conviction to protect Sovereign lands and the rights of Indian children.”

Mr. Garcia was a three term Governor of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, former President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), former Chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC), and was currently the Head Councilman at Ohkay Owingeh. Mr. Garcia returned to SFIS as a Trustee in 2019, having also served during the 1990s. During his tenure at SFIS, he was a strong and wise advocate of Pueblo educational sovereignty. He vigorously fought for SFIS at the national level, using his vast network of contacts in Indian Country to coalesce around key issues. His expert knowledge of federal budgeting processes and the programmatic requirements of laws governing Indian Education resulted in increased funding not just for SFIS but to also advance tribally-controlled educational systems nationally. 

He is an electrical engineer by profession, with an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of New Mexico. In June 2003, Mr. Garcia retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory after 25 years of service. His educational and engineering career set an example for Pueblo youth at time when advanced degrees, no less in a technical field, were rare. In his words, “I have always advocated for the advancement and success of our students in any field of study. I encourage the return of our students to their communities once their college degrees have been earned.”

Superintendent Christie Abeyta, “Trustee Garcia was generous with the knowledge that he gained in his 50-year career which he shared in the mentorship of current SFIS educators who, in their turn, will be the leaders in educational sovereignty for the next generation to come.”

In his distinguished 50-year career, Mr. Garcia fought not only for Pueblo educational sovereignty but also for tribal critical infrastructure issues including health care, transportation, and broadband Internet access.