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Tribe, state continue to address Real ID issues
CROWNPOINT — The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division will now accept a Certificate of Indian Blood and an affidavit of birth issued by the Navajo Nation Office of Vital Records in lieu of a birth certificate when obtaining a driver's license, identification card or driving authorization card.
The announcement was made by tribal and state officials at a town hall meeting Friday at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint.
Another change is that the motor vehicle division will accept utility bills that include physical location of residences, such as those sent by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, officials said.
The changes were the result of consultation between the two governments to address issues tribal members had in complying with regulations set by the Real ID Act.
New Mexico started issuing driver's licenses and identification cards in November 2016 that comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005 in addition to issuing non-compliant driving authorization cards.
Speaker LoRenzo Bates said council delegates started meeting with motor vehicle division officials to address driver's license and identification card issues.
The opportunity also helped the tribe in sharing information with the state about the tribe's vital records office, which issues the Certificate of Indian Blood and affidavits of birth.
"We've made a huge accomplishment as a result of sitting down, discussing and exchanging information," Bates said.
The purpose of the town hall meeting was to share information about the Real ID Act and provide an opportunity for tribal members to share their concerns.
Jerry Valdez, deputy director for the motor vehicle division, said complying with the Real ID Act is a statewide issue, including questions about required documentation and addressing name changes.
A driver's license now goes beyond authorizing a person to operate a vehicle due to the Real ID Act, he said adding a license is required to enter federal buildings to picking up a prescription at a pharmacy.
"It's everything. Your credential is who you are," Valdez said.
As part of efforts to help residents, the division had its mobile unit visit Crownpoint on Wednesday and Thursday.
The service resulted in 50 people renewing or obtaining driver's licenses and identification cards, Valdez said.
Nahodishgish Chapter resident Felicia John was at the meeting on behalf of her 93-year-old grandmother.
John said her grandmother wants to renew her identification card but is facing a problem because her name on her affidavit of birth does not match her name on other documentation.
To remedy the situation, John said her grandmother will file a name change with the court but explaining the process to her in the Navajo language has been a challenge.
Since an original or certified copy of a state birth certificate is listed as a required document to prove a person's identity for a driver's license or identification card, some tribal members have been seeking delayed birth certificates.
Nancy Joe, a vital statistics technician for the tribe's vital records office in Shiprock, said the office has been partnering with the state Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics to help tribal members receive delayed birth certificates.
This collaboration has resulted in events where personnel assist with issuing delayed birth certificates in Shiprock.
On Monday and Tuesday, personnel from both offices will once again hold an event to answer questions and assist in obtaining delayed birth certificates.
The event will be from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, both at the tribe's vital records office in Shiprock.
The motor vehicle division mobile unit will be on site to provide services.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.