Allis replaces Jackie Pata, a citizen of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes who served as NCAI's executive director for a record 18 years. She resigned earlier this year after long-standing complaints about her management and her handling of a sexual harassment scandal brought her down. But NCAI is ready to move past the turmoil, which eroded confidence in the nation's oldest and largest inter-tribal organization. As CEO, Allis is going to hit the ground running, with a conference that kicks off in less than two weeks. "As we embark on a new chapter with the hiring of our first CEO, we are pleased to welcome Kevin Allis to the National Congress of American Indians," said President Keel. "We are fortunate to benefit from Kevin’s considerable expertise and look forward to working together to protect and advance tribal sovereignty,” “We look forward to formally introducing our new CEO at NCAI’s Mid Year Conference and Marketplace, June 24-27 in Sparks, Nevada," said Keel, who recently announced that he will be stepping down from his role as Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. Suzan Shown Harjo. The Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee activist served as organization's executive director during the turbulent Ronald Reagan years, when budget cuts and policy actions threatened to undermine the federal government's trust and treaty responsibilities, a situation with parallels to the current Donald Trump era. "It is fitting that NCAI should announce its choice for a new Chief Executive Officer on the eve of the June 25 Native holiday of resistance, strategy and unity on the Plains of the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho Nations," Harjo, who received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom for her decades of work in Indian law and policy, told Indianz.Com. "Little Bighorn Day reminds us of what can be achieved if we stand our ground with dignity and respect for Mother Earth and all her children, but also that we never can take for granted the victories or sacrifices of our ancestors or expect to prevail in our endeavors without tremendous effort and consideration for one another," said Harjo. "A good beginning in this season of gathering together for renewal and revitalization. Welcome and all good wishes to NCAI’s first Potawatomi son as Chief Executive Officer."
The National Congress of American Indians @ncai1944 has hired Kevin Allis, a citizen of the Forest County Potawatomi Community, as its first Chief Executive Officer! He comes to NCAI with a strong background in tribal economic development. pic.twitter.com/PIbQQnRIF8— indianz.com (@indianz) June 12, 2019
"In many meetings with the government, they try to divide us," Frazier told leaders of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) during their recent meeting in the nation's capital. "They give us crumbs and try to get us to fight over them, but we have a choice to look beyond that and fight to stay united as one nation, the Native American nation," Frazier said to USET, which represents 27 tribal nations from Maine to Florida to Texas. USET has developed an alliance with the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, which represents 16 tribal nations in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and asked the chairman to run for NCAI's presidency. Nicole Hallingstad, a former high-ranking staffer at NCAI, is also angling for change. She stepped down from her post as director of operations last summer, warning tribal leaders of employee dissatisfaction and of a climate in which Native women have left the organization in droves. "NCAI now has a new Chief Executive Officer with a hard road ahead to regain trust and credibility for the organization," Hallingstad, who is a citizen of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes, told Indianz.Com. With the election on the horizon, she added: "It’s also time for a hard look at the NCAI board officers. The accountability has to go right to the top. They ignored too much for too long on their watch."
The Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association has just nominated me to run for President of NCAI by resolution today. I am honored to have have been asked to do so and even more honored to have the support of the Great Plains tribes! I am coming! #voteFrazier @NCAI1944— CRSTChairman (@CRSTChairman) May 2, 2019
An investigation by Indianz.Com, the initial results of which were published last August, spoke of employee misconduct complaints that went unresolved under Pata's management for years. When another high-ranking colleague of Hallingstad's went directly to the NCAI board officers with his own warning, he was fired. As Indianz.Com reported on the reassignment of NCAI's longest-serving attorney John Dossett, he questioned Hallingstad's "motives" for coming forward. And as he was being shown the door after being investigated internally for sexual harassment, he labeled her as a troublemaker with an "axe to grind." "Recent events at NCAI have proven the power of speaking up," Hallingstad said. "For anyone who feels harassed in the workplace, report it. Document it. It can be terrifying, I know. But the paper trail lays the foundation for change -- it is the data that mounts and becomes irrefutable." Following Pata's announcement of her departure, NCAI put out the call for a new Chief Executive Officer on March 8. The initial closing date for applications was April 8, but it was extended for a couple more weeks, to April 22.
One candidate who was contacted by NCAI was told of being a finalist for the job but was asked to wait for an interview because of the extended deadline. This person was informed that more time was needed for other applicants to finalize their submissions. A different applicant was contacted and informed by NCAI about not advancing to the finalist round. But just a couple of weeks ago, this same candidate was asked to come to the Embassy of Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C., which serves as the organization's headquarters, for an interview. Some finalists were at the Embassy early last week for their interviews. At least one candidate was told as soon as last Wednesday that the job was being offered to someone else, leading this person to believe that NCAI was eager to select someone for the position as soon as possible before the upcoming mid-year session. Allis was among the finalists and he was the one who was offered the job. When asked about his selection by Indianz.Com, he said on Tuesday that he "going to refrain from comment until President Keel makes the official notice. I don’t want to get ahead of my boss." Pata, who joined NCAI in 2001, is now serving as president and chief executive officer of Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority in Alaska. Her hiring there was announced on April 12.
The National Congress of American Indians @ncai1944 has hired its first Chief Executive Officer! Finalists had interviews at Embassy of Tribal Nations and job was offered to candidate with significant experience in tribal economic development. Official announcement expected soon.— indianz.com (@indianz) June 11, 2019
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