The National Congress of American Indians has a new president, Fawn Sharp.
This is Trahant Reports.
Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation, was elected last week as NCAI’s ’s 23rd president. She is only the third woman to lead the intertribal congress. She succeeds Jefferson Keel who did not run for re-election.
Sharp was surrounded by friends and family after the election results were announced. She earned nearly 62 percent of the vote in a field of four candidates. The other candidates were Shaun Chapoose from Ute Indian Tribe, Chairman Harold Frazier from Cheyenne River Sioux, and Chairman Marshall Pierite from the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana.
Sharp has called this office the Indigenous president because it’s a platform that can reach out across the country.
She said the task at hand is to bring people together.
‘This is not just a debate for the National Congress of American Indians president. This isn’t just a debate for the president, the Indigenous president of the United States because we have been here for thousands of years, they have been here for 400.”
One issue that is sure to be front and center, climate change. At the recent Indian Country Today debate she said this:
“At Quinault we have 200 and just over 200,000 acres, 31 miles of pristine coastline. We’re having to relocate to villages to higher ground. The glaciers that feed the mighty Quinaults are disappearing. We had millions of Sockeye salmon run through our rivers in the 1950s and sixties last year we only had 3000. This is very real to us. I’ve stood on the shores and I’ve had to declare multiple States of emergencies as I’ve seen our coastline littered with dead marine life. This is very real. This is the greatest existential threat facing our generation and probably the next generation.”
As president of the congress, Sharp will be called upon in a variety of ways, ranging from representation before the Trump administration to the Congress. She will be the voice that’s heard by companies and foundations.
Tina Marie Osceola, Seminole from Florida, said she has watched Sharp in action as a member of NCAI. She sees a dedicated Native woman who’s ready to take this country, Indian country, to where we need to be in the dialogue. “We’ve been so irrelevant for this past administration and I think that with her voice and her vision, that we’ll finally be able to reclaim our relevance on the global stage,” Osceola said.
The new Indigenous president assumed office last week.
I am Mark Trahant