Meet Native America: Judi Gaiashkibos of Nebraska commission

Judi M. Gaiashkibos. Photo from Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs

The National Museum of the American Indian continues its "Meet Native America" series with Judi M. Gaiashkibos, the executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs:
What responsibilities do you have to the Native peoples of Nebraska? Our agency’s mission is to enhance the cause of Indian rights and to develop solutions to problems common to all Nebraska Indians. We are the state liaison between the four headquarters tribes of the Omaha, Ponca, Santee Sioux, and Winnebago of Nebraska. I help ensure that the sovereignty of both tribal and state governments is recognized and acted upon in a true government-to-government relationship. The commission serves off-reservation Indian communities by helping assure they are afforded the right to equitable opportunities in housing, employment, education, health care, economic development, and human and civil rights within Nebraska.

The commission's goals are accomplished through advocacy, education, and promotion of legislation. We actively promote state and federal legislation beneficial to tribes and Indian citizens in Nebraska, and monitor and assess the law's impact. We assist in development and implementation of state and federal programs that provide equitable services and opportunities for Nebraska's Indian families in the areas of housing, employment, economic development, health, human services, law and order, tribal sovereignty, and civil and human rights. I educate legislators, educators, school-age youth, and the general public on the issues and legislation that impact Indian country in Nebraska, especially the availability of government and private resources to improve the lives of Nebraska's Indian citizens.

Specific areas that we are currently focusing on are youth and family, economic development, governance, and public relations.

How is the commission set up?

The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs was established in 1971 and consists of 14 Indian commissioners appointed by the governor. Additionally, the commission originally has four "ex-officio" members representing the Pawnee, Ioway, Sac and Fox, and Oglala Sioux tribes. Each of the four tribes headquartered in Nebraska—the Santee Sioux, Omaha, Winnebago, and Ponca—has two commissioners on the board who are selected by their tribes. Additionally there are six commissioners appointed representing the City of Omaha (two commissioners), the City of Lincoln, the Northwest Panhandle, the Southern Panhandle, and an at-large seat.

The board establishes the strategic vision of the agency, which is carried out by the agency executive director, who answers to the board, not the governor. As executive director I oversee all day-to-day operations of the agency.

Get the Story:
Meet Native America: Judi M. Gaiashkibos, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NMAI Blog 5/8)

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