Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, celebrates his election as president of the National Congress of American Indians at the organization's 74th annual convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 19, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
National | Politics

Decision day for National Congress of American Indians with leadership changes





Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, is the new president of the National Congress of American Indians.

Keel won election at the organization's 74th annual convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thursday. He defeated Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation, by just 330 votes in a dramatic run-off.

“I didn’t know it was going to be that close,” Keel said after the results were announced during the noon hour.

Keel, a well-respected veteran, previously served two terms as NCAI's president. He credited his two rivals for running strong campaigns.

“We have a great future ahead of us,” Sharp said in an emotional concession speech. Despite losing the race, she said it was “one of the best days” in her life.

Indianz.Com on YouTube: National Congress of American Indians Presidential Election

Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, came in third during the first round of balloting in the presidential race. Gathered in a hallway after the results were announced, he was blessed with honor songs as he thanked his supporters, many of whom traveled from the Great Plains to attend NCAI's meeting.

"I came here proud and we will leave proud," a jubilant Frazier stated.

Keel succeeds Brian Cladoosby, who served two consecutive terms as president, the maximum allowed under NCAI's rules. Cladoosby will continue to lead his community, the Swinomish Tribe.

"NCAI's in good hands," Cladoosby said after the election.

Indianz.Com on Twitter: Chairman Harold Frazier Addresses Supporters

In other leadership news, Aaron Payment, the chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, won re-election as First Vice President. He defeated Randy Phelan, the vice chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, for the post.

"My greatest qualification is that my heart is Indian," Payment said as he campaigned for the post.

Finally, Juana Majel-Dixon, a council member from the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, won election as Secretary of NCAI. She defeated Liana Onnen, the chairwoman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

“I will be there to listen to you,” said Majel-Dixon, who has previously served in the post and as NCAI's vice president.

NCAI also chose Ron Allen, the chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, as treasurer by acclamation on Wednesday. He was the only candidate for the post.

All of the winning candidates, plus the regional vice presidents and their alternates, will be sworn into office on Friday morning. NCAI's convention concludes tomorrow.

Indianz.Com on YouTube: Election Results for Vice President and Secretary

ORIGINAL POST:
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It's decision day for the National Congress of American Indians as attendees elect a slate of new leaders.

Delegates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are choosing a new president. Three candidates are in the running: Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation; Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; and Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

The vice president's post is also up for grabs. The incumbent, Aaron Payment, the chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is facing a challenge from Randy Phelan, the vice chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

Indianz.Com on YouTube: Meet the Candidates: National Congress of American Indians 2017

Finally, attendees are electing a secretary. Juana Majel-Dixon, a council member from the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, and Lianna Onnen, the chairwoman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, are vying for the post.

NCAI elected Ron Allen, the chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, as treasurer by acclamation on Wednesday. He was the only candidate for the post.

Balloting is taking place on Thursday morning. Results will be posted here.