Indian Advisory Panel


The IAP was created in the early 1980s when a small group of tribal members was brought together for a series of brainstorming sessions prior to the construction of the MIAC/Lab. They were followed by another group of advisors for the “Here, Now and Always” exhibit. The present-day IAP was formed during the mid-1990s.


Collectively and individually, the IAP provides technical and cultural advice, guidance and recommendations to the staff of the MIAC/Lab. This ensures that representatives of Southwest Indian communities approve of both the objects and the factual and philosophical approaches and interpretations of various exhibitions, outreach and public programs. Full consideration is given to the recommendations of the IAP whenever subject, object, or other matters are deemed potentially sensitive or offensive to the tribal groups they represent.


The IAP meets several times a year to review and discuss issues related to collections, exhibition plans, and public educational programs for appropriateness and sensitivity to Native American cultures and communities.


Christine Sims, Ph.D., IAP Chair

Dr. Christine P. Sims of Acoma Pueblo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. She completed her doctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley, focusing on issues of heritage language maintenance and revitalization among Native American tribes. She specializes in indigenous language revitalization and maintenance issues, providing technical assistance to tribes in Native language program planning, training language teachers through the UNM College of Education’s American Indian Language Policy Research and Teacher Training Center. She has also served as a consultant to many different Native language programs on language preservation issues. Christine is a member of Acoma Pueblo and resides with her family on the Acoma Pueblo Indian reservation in northwestern New Mexic


Wells P. Mahkee, Jr., IAP Vice Chair

 Wells P. Mahkee Jr. is from Zuni Pueblo and currently serves as Vice-Chair on the IAP. He is a member of the Yadokkya:kwe (Sun Clan) and child of the Donashi:kwe (Badger Clan). He is the former executive director of Zuni Pueblo MainStreet, the nation’s first Native American MainStreet community and was also managing editor of the Navajo-Hopi Observer, a regional newspaper in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has also worked with the Zuni Public School District, Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise (ZCRE), and the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center (AAMHC). Wells is a fluent reader, writer and speaker of the Shiwi (Zuni) language and also serves on the Shiwi Language and Culture Board. He created the Shiwi'ma A:beye:na:kwe' Wokkwinne (Zuni Language Speakers Group) page on Facebook as a resource for all levels of Zuni speakers who have questions about Zuni language.

Lenora Tsosie - Diné Nation

I am from a small farming community along the south banks of the San Juan River, west of Shiprock, New Mexico. I am a former archaeologist with the tribe’s archaeology program where I conducted cultural resource investigations, ethnographic documentations, and served as the traditional cultural properties & place specialist. My husband and I raised three children with the concept of Navajo-ism and the Western ideology. I am a graduate of Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado with a Computer-Aided Drafting degree from San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico.

I applied my technical expertise to cultural resource inventory mapping and implemented the Geographic Information System into all archaeology projects during my tenure with the archaeology program. Presently, I am a realty specialist for the Navajo Nation applying many of my acquired methodology into the tribes residential leasing. I continue to be active in the study, recording, research of tribal lands and its infrastructure development initiatives. I am a staunch proponent for multi-lingual education, cultural inclusion, history, geology from American Indian perspectives and pursuing opportunities for the youth in all communities. I enjoy my involvement with the Museum of Indian Culture programming and Department of Cultural Affairs of New Mexico.

Melvin SarracinoMel Sarracino

Melvin Sarracino hails from Laguna Pueblo.  He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Museum Studies in May of 2009.  Hired by the Acoma Business Enterprises as a Museum Specialist at the Sky City Cultural Center & Haak’u Museum at Acoma Pueblo, his responsibilities include exhibit development, installations and de-installations, community outreach with guided exhibit tours, fundraising, archives management, and using best-practices for collections care. As part of his professional development, Mel accepted a 2012/2013 nine-month Anne Ray Internship with the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. He is also a member of the Cibola County Historical Society.



Other IAP members with photos and biographies forthcoming:

Edwina L. (Eddy) Abeita - Isleta Pueblo                                                                    

Albert Alvidez - Ysleta del Sur Pueblo

Chris Chavez - Santo Domingo Pueblo

John Garcia - Santa Clara Pueblo

Lee Wayne Lomayestewa - Hopi Tribe

Paula Mirabal - Taos Pueblo

Malcolm Yepa - Jemez Pueblo

Ulysses Reid - Zia Pueblo