Jefferson Keel Unanimously Re-Elected President of the National Congress of American Indians

Members of nation’s leading American Indian and Alaska Native organization signal Indian Country’s support for gains made


Caption: Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) addresses the opening session of the 68th Annual Convention earlier this week in Portland, Oregon. In a historic moment, Keel was unanimously re-elected for a second two-year term as President of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization. Photo credit: Joseph Whittle/NCAI

Portland, Oregon – With unanimous and overwhelming support, Jefferson Keel the Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation was re-elected as the President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). In a historic moment on Wednesday, members of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative tribal advocacy organization elected Keel to his second term as President of NCAI with no opposition.

“Indian Country spoke with conviction today and I’m honored to be asked to continue addressing our greatest challenges with real solutions,” said Keel. “The message from Indian Country is this: we will not lose ground on the gains we have made.”

The election signaled a unified commitment by Indian Country to continue the momentum experienced under Keel’s first two-year term. On Tuesday, NCAI issued a statement of support for Senator Daniel Akaka’s SAVE Native Women Act and Keel restated his conviction to see the passage of this critical bill during the early part of his second two-year term.

Elections for the positions of First Vice President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer will be held on Thursday. The candidates for the positions are; First Vice President - Juana Majel Dixon, Pauma Band of Mission Indians and Michael Finley, Colville Confederated Tribes; Secretary - Terri Henry, Eastern Band of Cherokee and Ed Thomas, Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; and Treasurer -W. Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Dennis Welsh, Jr., Colorado River Indian Tribes.

After all elections have been concluded on Thursday, Executive Officers and Area Vice Presidents members will be sworn-in at a ceremony for NCAI members and members of the media on Friday morning.

Fawn Sharp, the recently elected President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and NCAI’s Northwest Area Vice President, offered Keel’s nomination. The well over 1,000 members in the nomination session gave Keel a standing ovation after the motion to accept a unanimous ballot was passed.

Keel’s unopposed nomination and election came at the mid-point of the organization’s 68th Annual Convention held in Portland, Oregon. NCAI estimates that nearly 3,000 people have participated in the organization’s Annual Convention.

About The National Congress of American Indians:

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit

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