Want to know what the next president of the National Congress
of American Indians will be like? Take a look at the pace of the
candidates in the weeks leading to NCAIs convention and election.
One of the four will be elected to a two-year term as president
when NCAI meets October 13-18 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. NCAIs president
is not salaried but leads an organization that has a staff of 33
and a lot of clout.
This is an influential crop of candidates.
Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Chairman
recently pulled in seine nets, getting a first-hand look at the
results of ongoing work to restore salmon habitat, then oversaw
the Tribes acquisition of more than 250 acres of land that
had been removed from his reservation by executive order in 1873.
The acreage includes a golf course and shellfish tidelands.
In Cladoosbys 17 years as chairman, the Swinomish Tribe
has emerged as one of the five largest employers in Skagit County
and a major partner in efforts to restore the health of the Salish
Sea. He served as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest
Indians, and said the NCAI presidency would give him a national
platform from which to work on economic development, education,
health services, and protection of natural resources.
Cladoosby served on NCAIs board of directors and on EPAs
National Tribal Operations Committee.
I have no doubt that Brian has the skills to advance Northwest
tribal issues at a national level, said Micah McCarty, former
Makah chairman and member of the U.S. Commerce Departments
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.
Tribes fared well in the Obama administration but could
have done better in natural resource areas of the administration.
The [Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission] Treaty Rights at Risk
initiative is a case in point, regarding the need for greater national
attention and better regional responses [to salmon habitat needs].
Joe A. Garcia, former two-term NCAI president
Ohkay Owingeh, spoke before the U.S. Senate Energy Committee regarding
nuclear waste management and storage, and advised the U.S. Health
and Human Services Department on substance abuse and mental health
Garcias leadership at NCAI is a fresh memory for many.
When he left office in 2009, the National Indian Gaming Association
honored him as a defender of sovereignty and a strong voice for
Americas First Peoples, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
proclaimed October 15, 2009 as President Joe Garcia Day
in the state.
During his tenure, Garcia and NCAI faced the scourge of
meth, battled budget cuts aimed at cutting Indian funding, and welcomed
the start of new opportunities with the Obama administration,
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. said at the time.
During the 109th Congress in 2006, President Garcias
leadership proved invaluable as Indian country came together to
defend Tribal sovereignty from attacks on Indian gaming. [He] brought
NCAI together with NIGA and we held over eight national meetings
to develop a consensus in Indian country and take our message to
Garcia is former governor of Ohkay Owingeh and led the 20-pueblo
All Indian Pueblo Council from 2009-11. He has an electrical engineering
degree from the University of New Mexico and has taught at Northern
New Mexico College since 1979.
Juana Majel-Dixon, Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians
met President Obama at Camp Pendleton, spoke on behalf of NCAI at
the United Tribes International Pow Wow in Bismarck, North Dakota,
and lobbied to include Alaska Native women in the Violence Against
Majel-Dixon, NCAIs first vice president, has been a member
of the Pauma Band council since 1974, professor of U.S. policy and
Indian Law at Palomar College since 1981, and the Pauma Bands
policy director since 1997. She has a doctorate in education from
San Diego State University.
She has long been at the forefront of efforts to restore and
expand VAWA, and is a member of the U.S. Justice Department Task
Force on Violence Against Women.
Gena Tyner-Dawson, senior adviser to the Assistant U.S. Attorney
General for Tribal Affairs, wrote that Majel-Dixon provides excellent
leadership on national issues impacting Tribal policy matters and
provides objective viewpoints important to developing action
plans, strategies and arriving at joint solutions to issues and
George Tiger, Muscogee Creek principal chief
oversaw his nations acquisitions of Okmulgee Memorial Hospital
and the George Nigh Rehabilitation Center, brokered an agreement
to prevent a museum from auctioning Creek artwork and artifacts,
and spoke at the annual Indian Country Business Summit on the importance
of Native peoples spending money within Indian country.
Tiger has been a member of the Muscogee Creek National Council
for 14 years and served as speaker in 2006-07. He is a regent of
Haskell Indian Nations University, his alma mater.
Tiger leads an economic powerhouse that contributes to the copy0.8
billion economic impact on Oklahoma by the states 38 indigenous
nations. Muscogee Creek-owned enterprises include a document imaging
company; construction, technology and staffing services; travel
plazas; and 11 casino/event centers. The College of the Muscogee
Nation, founded in 2004, offers associate degrees and Mvskoke language
Muscogee Creeks government has an annual budget of more
than copy06 million and more than 2,400 employees, and provides
public services in eight administrative districts.