Swinomish leader and ILA winner elected President of NCAI

Cladoosby heads the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Native Alaskan organizations serving the interests of tribal governments and communities.

Ecotrust would like to congratulate Chairman Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Tribe on his election as the 21st President of the National Congress of American Indians. Cladoosby has been on the council of the Swinomish Tribe for 29 years and a chairman for 17. In 2012 he was the top honoree for Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Award.

Brian Cladoosby

“I am deeply humbled to have been selected to serve tribes around the nation as President of NCAI,” said Cladoosby. “American Indian and Alaska Native communities are each unique with their own histories, cultures, economies and governmental structures. We also share the common goal of providing the best governmental services to our members. I look forward to working with all the amazing tribal leaders across the country to improve the lives of Indian people.”

In his first statement from the office of President, Cladoosby called for a resolution on the Farm Bill in the post-shutdown actions of congress, calling special attention to the nutrition services portion of the bill and the emergency response services promised to tribal people in the face of natural disasters like the storms suffered recently by Great Plains tribes.

“Allowing the current Farm Bill to lapse without action, coupled with the government shutdown, meant that support systems at the Department of Agriculture were unavailable to Native farmers and ranchers during this terrible storm,” President Cladoosby said earlier this week in a statement. “Congress must pass a Farm Bill that will support tribal nations and others around the country who are in dire straits and it must keep nutrition programs with farm policies because there should never be a disconnect between food production and feeding people. No one – especially our tribal citizens most in need – should ever have to go without food while being used as pawns in the lawmaking process.”

Cladoosby has been instrumental in bringing economic empowerment to his tribe in a variety of ways, but most recently by helping open the Swinomish Fish Comapny in 2009 – now one of only two canneries currently in operation in Western Washington. The Swinomish Fish Company’s annual revenue has increased from $3 million in 2009 to $14 million in 2011, bringing economic development back into the hands of tribal communities. Swinomish Fish Company has also increased inter-tribal cooperation in the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Alaska through its purchases of 22 tribes’ fish and seafood resources.

As a fisherman, Cladoosby has a strong connection to the salmon from which Coast Salish tribes draw their livelihood. Of his own tribe, he says, “Swinomish always has been and always will be a fishing tribe.”

In winning the 2012 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award, Cladoosby joined an elite group of tribal leaders who are noted for their dedication to improving the environmental and economic conditions of their homelands and people. Since 2001, Ecotrust has recognized 54 tribal leaders for their work in these areas.

In 2010, he joined 12 of his fellow Native leaders from across the country in Washington, DC to take part in a government-to-government meeting with President Obama.

By being elected as President of NCAI he joins the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Native Alaskan organizations serving the interests of tribal governments and communities.