Statement from Newly Elected NCAI President Cladoosby

New NCAI President Brian Cladoosby:
“Congress Must Act Immediately To Provide Rapid Recovery For Our Tribes And Work To Ensure That Political Gamesmanship And InactivityDoes Not Harm Native Peoples Again.”
Source: National Congress of American Indians
LaCONNER, WA- In his first statement after being sworn in as the 21st president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Brian Cladoosby – Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community – called for reduced thresholds for federal tribal disaster assistance and challenged Congress to prioritize Native peoples in the post-shutdown legislative calendar, including acting on the Farm Bill:
“As I begin my term, my thoughts and prayers are with the South Dakota tribes. The Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have been devastated by the recent storm that swept the Great Plains – and the federal government failed, again, to maintain treaty agreements that ensure disaster relief is provided when citizens are in distress. When the federal government neglects citizens in times of emergency, the effects can be long term.
Tribes are now eligible for federal disaster assistance under the Stafford Act, however the high monetary damages threshold hampers impoverished areas because what is lost by low-income citizens often does not meet the required amount. The federal government has a fiduciary duty to protect tribal citizens but without changes to the threshold, tribal citizens will continue to suffer from the consequences of disasters.
The immediate problems caused by collapsing homes and widespread loss of livestock are only the beginning. Tribal ranchers and farmers in South Dakota will feel the economic impact of this storm for years to come as they will now have to rebuild their livelihoods from scratch. Allowing the current Farm Bill to lapse without action, coupled with the government shutdown, meant that support systems at the Department of Agriculture were unavailable to Native farmers and ranchers during this terrible storm. These failures of Congress prolong the claims process and inhibit Native food production and economic development. Further, with no Farm Bill and the lack of government funding for food assistance programs, many tribal citizens were left without access to food all while these vital programs are used as political bargaining chips. No one – especially our tribal citizens most in need – should ever have to go without food while being used as pawns in the lawmaking process.
Congress must pass a Farm Bill that will support tribal nations and others around the country who are in dire straits and it must keep nutrition programs with farm policies because there should never be a disconnect between food production and feeding people. Congress must act immediately to provide rapid recovery for our tribes and work to ensure that political gamesmanship and inactivity does not harm Native peoples again.”
About The National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit

4 Candidates Campaigning to Be Next NCAI President

By Richard Walker, ICTMN

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 NCAI’s 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. NCAI’s 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

Brian Cladoosby (Courtesy EcoTrust)
Brian Cladoosby (Courtesy EcoTrust)


Cladoosby recently pulled in seine nets, getting a first-hand look at the results of ongoing work to restore salmon habitat, then oversaw the Tribe’s 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 Cladoosby’s 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 NCAI’s board of directors and on EPA’s 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 Department’s 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

Joe A. Garcia (Courtesy
Joe A. Garcia (Courtesy


Garcia, 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 services.

Garcia’s 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 America’s 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 Garcia’s 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 Congress.”

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 council member

Juana Majel-Dixon (Courtesy NCAI)
Juana Majel-Dixon (Courtesy NCAI)


Majel-Dixon 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 Women Act.

Majel-Dixon, NCAI’s 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 Band’s 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 concerns.”

George Tiger, Muscogee Creek principal chief

George Tiger (Courtesy Muscogee Nation News)
George Tiger (Courtesy Muscogee Nation News)


Tiger oversaw his nation’s 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 state’s 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 classes.

Muscogee Creek’s government has an annual budget of more than copy06 million and more than 2,400 employees, and provides public services in eight administrative districts.