WHO WE ARE
The NNI International Advisory Council (IAC) is composed of current and past Native leaders, scholars, community leaders, administrators, and nonprofit and nongovernmental organization executives. The IAC provides counsel and advice to help ensure that NNI's programs are having the maximum beneficial effect for Native nations. The IAC meets with NNI twice a year, with less formal consultation occuring on a continuing basis.
Denny Hurtado (Skokomish)
Denny Hurtado is a member of the Skokomish Indian Tribe, a resident of the Skokomish Reservation, and the former Chairman of the Skokomish Tribal Council. He has spent the past two decades struggling to end the environmental, cultural, and economic devastation inflicted on the Skokomish River and the Skokomish people by the City of Tacoma’s Cushman Hydroelectric Project. Chairman Hurtado received a bachelor’s degree in social science and a lifetime secondary teaching credential from the California State University at Sacramento. He received a master’s degree in school administration from the California State University at Humboldt. He has been the Indian Education Director for Washington State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the past four years. Previously, he was the Upward Bound Director at the Evergreen State College for nearly seven years. From 1978 to 1992, he was a commercial fisherman and teacher. Chairman Hurtado has served on the Skokomish Tribal Council for the past sixteen years. He has held the positions of chairman, vice-chairman, and general council president. He is currently a plaintiff in the Skokomish Tribe’s lawsuit against the City of Tacoma, Skokomish Indian Tribe, et. al. v. United States of America, et. al., Case No. C099-5606, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma.
Hon. Sophie Pierre (Kootenay)
Chief, St. Mary's First Nation; Tribal Administrator, Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council; President, St. Eugene Mission Resort, British Columbia.
Hon. John A. ‘Rocky' Barrett (Potawatomi)
Rocky Barrett has served as Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman since 1985. He has served the tribe as an elected official for over 25 years, beginning with his first elected position as Vice Chairman in 1971. He is also president of Barrett Drilling Company, an independent oil and gas production company, and Barrett Land and Cattle Company, a registered Angus cattle ranch. He earned a bachelor of science degree in business at Oklahoma City University, attended the Graduate School of Business at OCU, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of commercial sciences from St. Gregory’s University.
Gregory Cajete (Santa Clara Pueblo)
Greg Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. Currently, he is Director of Native American Studies and an Associate Professor in the Division of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. He holds a Ph.D. from International College – Los Angeles New Philosophy Program in Social Science Education with an emphasis in Native American Studies. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethnobotany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. Dr. Cajete has authored five books, including Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model and The Spirit of the Game: Wellspring for Indigenous Renewal.
Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
Duane Champagne is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa from North Dakota. He is a Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies, a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center, and is Acting Director of the Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange (TLCEE) . Professor Champagne was Director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center from 1991-2002 and editor of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal from 1986-2003. He has authored and edited over ninety publications including Native America: Portraits of the Peoples, The Native North American Almanac, and Social Order and Political Change: Constitutional Governments Among the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek.
Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda (Round Valley Indian Tribe)
Gabriel S. Galanda, a descendant of the Nomlaki and Concow Tribes and enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, is a partner in Seattle with Williams Kastner's Tribal Practice Group, and he serves as a Director on the firm's Board of Directors. Gabe's practice focuses on complex, multi-party Indian law and gaming litigation, representing Indian tribes. He also assists tribal governments with economic development and diversification initiatives, and works with gaming vendors and other corporate entities doing business in Indian Country. Gabe is the current Chair of the ABA Business Law Section Gaming Law Committee, and a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law. As past two-term President of the Northwest Indian Bar Association and Chair of the Washington State Indian Law Section, he spearheaded the inclusion of federal Indian jurisdiction on the Washington bar exam. Gabe has been honored as National NALSA’s Alumnus of the Year, a Washington Law & Politics Rising Star (six times), the Washington State Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer, and one of The Best Lawyers in America and Seattle's Best Lawyers practicing in Indian law. Gabe has published over sixty articles regarding Indian law and gaming. He received his J.D. from the University of Arizona College of Law, where he served as NALSA President and Note Editor for Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law.
David Gipp (Lakota)
David Gipp is the president of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota. He is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (his Indian name is Lone Star). He was educated at the University of North Dakota and holds a doctorate in laws, honoris causa, from North Dakota State University for his contributions in developing tribal higher education. His professional work since 1972 has been principally in the development of tribal colleges. Among other posts, Dr. Gipp is a former executive director and president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and current chair of the American Indian College Fund (AICF). He was the 1995 Indian Educator of the Year of the National Indian Education Association, and recipient of the 1997 North Dakota Multicultural Educator of the year.
Vernon James (Apache)
Vernon James is Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the San Carlos Apache Telecommunications Utility, Inc., an independent telephone company incorporated by the San Carlos Apache Nation. Mr. James previously served as the Executive Director of Health and Human Services for the San Carlos Apache Nation, and as Tribal Operations/Indian Self Determination Officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, San Carlos Agency. Mr. James currently serves on the Consumer Advisory Committee, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission; National Tribal Telecommunications Association; and Board of Trustees, Cobre Valley Community Hospital, Globe-Miami, Arizona. He is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Nation and a graduate of Arizona State University.
Elsie Meeks (Lakota)
Elsie Meeks, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, is the former President/CEO of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. She currently works with the USDA on Rural Development in South Dakota. Elsie has over 20 years experience working for Native community economic development. Prior to her leadership and work at Oweesta, Elsie was active for 20 years in the development and management of The Lakota Funds, a small business and microenterprise development loan fund CDFI on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She serves as chairperson of The Lakota Funds and is a board member of Corporation for Enterprise Development, Northwest Area Foundation, Council on Foundations, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing. She is also an International Advisory Council member of Native Nations Institute and on the Board of Governors for the Honoring Nations program of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. She completed a six-year term on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was the first Native American to serve on the Commission. Elsie is presently the chairperson for the Native Financial Education Coalition, for which Oweesta serves as lead organization. Elsie and her husband Jim make their home on their ranch near Kyle, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Grand Chief Michael Mitchell (Mohawk)
Michael Kanetakeron Mitchell is a Wolf-clan member from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. For over twenty years Michael has served in a political capacity in his community, one of the most volatile and progressive communities in Canada. During his tenure as Grand Chief he gave his people not only pride in their culture, but the confidence to begin to act and think as a self-governing nation by opting out of the Indian Act in elections, membership, and education. Mitchell's vision is to help restore the independence of the Mohawk people of Akwesasne through a combination of an aggressive economical campaign and the development of a strong government based on the best of both the Haudenosaunee traditional government and the governments of the world at large.
Ned Norris, Jr.,(Tohono O’odham Nation)
Chairman Ned Norris, Jr., is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation from the remote village of Fresnal Canyon, in the Baboquivari District. He was elected to a four-year term as the Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation in May of 2007. In May of 2003 he was elected to serve as Vice Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Both before and after holding the position of Vice Chairman, he worked with the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise. Chairman Norris served as Assistant Director of Marketing and Public Relations (August 2006 – May 2007); as Director of Marketing & Public Relations (November 2000 – May 2003); Casino Manager (June 1994 – November 2000) and Director of Community Relations (November 1993 – June 1994). The Enterprise operates both Desert Diamond Casino locations in Tucson and Golden Ha:san Casino near Why, Arizona. Chairman Norris is in his thirty-second (32) year of serving the Tohono O’odham Nation. In addition to holding the position of Chairman and Vice Chairman, he has also served as the Assistant Director of the tribes Children's Home; Court Advocate; Children's Court Judge; Court of Appeals Judge; Indian Child Welfare Specialist; Assistant Director of Tribal Social Services and Director of Tribal Government Operations. On February 1, 1993, Chairman Norris completed a six (6) year Tohono O’odham Legislative Council appointment as (non-attorney) tribal Judge, the last three (3) of those years as Chief Judge for the Judicial Branch. Chairman Norris is currently a board member of the Chicanos Por La Causa, Tucson Urban League, American Indian Association, Inc., and the University of Arizona – Arthritis Center Advisory Board; Tucson Metropolitan Education Commission; KUAT Communications Group-Advisory Board; and the Tucson Airport Authority-Advisory Board. Additionally he is a former board member of the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board; and a former Commissioner for the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Tribal Employment Rights Office.
Regis Pecos (Cochiti Pueblo)
Councilor and Past Governor, Cochiti Pueblo; Co-Director, New Mexico Leadership Institute; Senior Policy and Legislative Analyst to the Speaker, New Mexico House of Representatives
Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakot)
Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakota), has more than 20 years experience working in banking and finance in Indian Country. He was the founding director of the Lakota Fund (now Lakota Funds), the first Native CDFI in the U.S., located on and serving the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sherman worked in banking for Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo), the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and First Interstate BancSystem of Montana. His banking career focused on community development and financing on Indian reservations. Sherman also worked for the Four Times Foundation, investing in Indian entrepreneurs on select Indian reservations.
Robert Valencia, (Pascua Yaqui)
Vice-Chairman, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizona
Robert Yazzie (Navajo)
The Honorable Robert Yazzie was the Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation from 1992 through 2003. He practiced law in the Navajo Nation for 16 years, and he was a district judge for eight years. He has a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College of Ohio and a juris doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He is currently the Director of the Diné Policy Institute of Diné College (Navajo Nation) developing policy using authentic Navajo thinking. He is a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association. He is the author of articles and book chapters on many subjects, including Navajo peacemaking, traditional Indian law, and international human rights law. He is a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, an adjunct professor of the Department of Criminal Justice of Northern Arizona University and a visiting member of the faculty of the National Judicial College. He recently taught Navajo law at the Crownpoint Institute of Technology. Chief Justice Yazzie continues a career devoted to education in formal participation in faculties, lectures, and discussions of traditional indigenous law at various venues throughout the world. He has a global audience and he has frequently visited foreign lands to share his wisdom about traditional indigenous justice and governance.
Peterson Zah (Navajo)
Peterson Zah is a Diné from the Navajo Nation. Mr. Zah was elected Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council from 1983-1987. In 1998 he became Director of the Western Regional Office of the Save the Children Federation and established an office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1990, under a new tribal government organization, Mr. Zah was elected again—this time as President of the Navajo Nation—and served a four-year term. This makes Peterson Zah the last Tribal Chairman and the first elected President of the Navajo Nation. Since 1995, Mr. Zah has been serving Arizona State University as Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs, helping with recruitment and retention of American Indian students.
Patricia Zell (Arapaho/Navajo)
Former Democratic Staff Director/Chief Counsel, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs