Keel also said the tribal leaders who serve on NCAI's executive committee met ahead of the convention and placed Jackie Pata, the organization's executive director, on administrative leave. She has been suspended from her post, which she has held since 2001, pending an investigation into the allegations of staff misconduct. According to Keel, the recommendation to suspend Pata was initially made by an "ad hoc committee” of tribal leaders who came together after Indianz.Com's first report back in August. They are continuing to look into how the executive director handled and responded to employee complaints, which one former senior staffer said has contributed to high rates of turnover. Keel, though, did not address Pata's continued presence in Denver. She is still participating in the convention, sitting in the section reserved for NCAI delegates from Alaska -- her home state -- during the entirety of Monday's session. She also appeared at a Violence Against Women Act task force meeting on Sunday, just a couple of days after sharing her own intensely personal story about being a survivor of abuse.
"As a condition of our continued membership in the NCAI, we require that women within the organization are treated with respect." Chairman Mark Fox of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation issues statement on the National Congress of American Indians. #MeToo pic.twitter.com/kSuCS6nOjK— indianz.com (@indianz) October 15, 2018
"I don't say this to berate you, or to say you're not doing a good job, but you're not doing a good job, " Chapoose said, speaking to President Keel. "We're the tribal leaders and we're being muzzled all the time because we speak the way we speak. We're told to 'play nice' with you."
"Playing nice don't work," Chapoose said to applause.During his president's report, Keel said NCAI has been listening to the concerns. In agreeing to suspend Pata on Saturday, he said portions of a resolution submitted by Chairman Frazier and another one by Kevin DuPuis, the chairman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, were adopted in hopes of improving accountability and transparency. Frazier's resolution called for Pata to be suspended. DuPuis's resolution sought an independent investigation into NCAI's handling of additional issues, not just the allegations of staff misconduct that are being reviewed by the "ad hoc committee." Additionally, the Kenaitze Tribe, from Pata's home state of Alaska, submitted a third resolution that requests an "independent investigation into recent workplace concerns regarding the executive leadership of NCAI." The organization's executive leadership consists of Pata, plus the four officers -- president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Like the Utes and others, Kenaitze previously called for NCAI to find a new executive director. The three tribal resolutions were all listed for consideration during the conference. Discussion typically takes place during NCAI subcommittee meetings, where media is not allowed, throughout the week but delegates sometimes bring them up during the main assembly. A final report on the status of the resolutions is due to be provided on Friday. NCAI's convention continues on Tuesday. The agenda includes discussion of threats to the Indian Child Welfare Act, protecting trust lands, economic development and marijuana in Indian Country. The conference concludes on Friday.
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