Misquez, Sara: Former Mescalero Apache president killed in car crash

Tularosa, New Mexico (AP) 1-08

Sara Misquez, a former president of the Mescalero Apache in southern New Mexico, was killed in a sport utility vehicle crash.

Misquez, 62, was alone when the eastbound SUV she was driving crashed Jan. 9 on U.S. 70, about a mile east of Tularosa, New Mexico State Police said.

The SUV veered into the median, returned to the roadway, slid broadside and rolled 2-and-a-half times, Sgt. Andrew Tingwall said.

Misquez, who was partially ejected from the SUV, was wearing a seat belt, and no liquor was involved in the crash, Tingwall said.

The weather was clear and the road was dry at the time, state police said.

Misquez was appointed president of the tribe following the Tribal Council’s May 1999 ouster of Paul Ortega after he served six months as president. She won the presidency in an August 1999 special election.

Ortega was appointed president after the Nov. 4, 1998, death Wendell Chino, who was the tribe’s leader for 43 years. Misquez was a longtime aide to Chino.

Chino’s son, Mark Chino, defeated Misquez in the tribe’s 2001 election for president, but the council tossed out the results two weeks later in a voting machine controversy.

Misquez won a special election in January 2002.

Misquez and Chino again faced off for the tribal presidency in the November 2003 election, which Chino won.

Chino lost the presidency in the tribe’s 2007 primary election, when Misquez was the leading vote-getter, followed by Councilor Carleton Naiche-Palmer, who won the presidency in the November general election.

Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., sent their condolences to Misquez’s family Thursday, saying she had led her people with honor.

Domenici remembered Misquez for addressing the health and education needs of her tribe head on. He said he worked with her to get a new school built on the southern New Mexico reservation.

“Children on the reservation today can get a better education because of her advocacy for the new school complex,” he said.

Misquez was a graduate of Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kan., with a degree in business. She had served as the tribe’s administrator, as a council member and as tribal secretary.