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GALLUP — The New Mexico Senate voted 30-0 on Wednesday to confirm Lynn Trujillo as secretary for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Trujillo on Jan. 22.

Trujillo, a member of the Pueblo of Sandia, served as the Native American coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development program in Albuquerque.

She received her law degree from the University of New Mexico and served as general counsel for the pueblo.

"I feel very fortunate to have worked for my own pueblo, but also in other native communities, in a variety of capacities. It was because of my commitment to serve that I answered the call to join this administration," Trujillo said to the Senate Rules Committee, which backed the confirmation before sending the matter to the full Senate for consideration.

She called the appointment "personal" because people are placing their trust in her to fulfill the responsibilities of the cabinet seat.

"I value this trust and I hold it gently. I pledge to take care of it and build upon it," she said.

The Indian Affairs Department is designed to strengthen tribal and state relations. It also addresses challenges such as economic development, infrastructure improvement and health care accessibility for the four tribes and 19 pueblos in the state.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer commended Trujillo's confirmation in a press release on Wednesday.

"The Navajo Nation congratulates Secretary Trujillo and we look forward to working with her to advance the priorities of the Navajo Nation, which includes securing a fair distribution of federal Impact Aid funds for Navajo students, capital outlay funds, TIF (Tribal Infrastructure Fund) dollars and gaming issues," Nez said.

Lizer added the tribe has "great potential" for economic development as demonstrated in projects such as the glove manufacturing facility in Church Rock.

Rhino Health LLC announced in December plans to open a facility and warehouse to produce nitrile gloves in the community located east of Gallup.

"We have opportunities that we can advance with the help of Secretary Trujillo and Gov. Lujan Grisham," Lizer said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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