NCAI

CRST with roots on founding NCAI

 

NCAI was established in 1944 in response to the termination and assimilation policies the US government forced upon tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereign nations. To this day, protecting these inherent and legal rights remains the primary focus of NCAI.

 

NCAI represents a diverse network of tribal nations, tribal citizens, and Native organizations. As a member-based representative Congress, NCAI is governed by voting members who determine NCAI’s consensus positions expressed in resolutions, which are developed in committees and sub-committees and then voted on at national conventions. NCAI members also elect the organization’s Executive Committee - the NCAI President, 1st Vice President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer. These are elected by the entire membership. The 12 Regional Vice Presidents are elected by their respective regions. All board members serve for two-year terms.

 

In Denver, Colorado, in 1944, close to 80 delegates from 50 tribes and associations in 27 states came together to establish the National Congress of American Indians at the Constitutional Convention. Founded in response to the emerging threat of termination, the founding members stressed the need for unity and cooperation among tribal governments and people for the security and protection of treaty and sovereign rights. The Founders also committed to the betterment of the quality of life of Native people.

 

Fourteen (14) of the original charter members were from the Phetage Sakowin making Sioux the largest contingent. Luke Gilbert, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was on the charter council of NCAI.

 

In the early 1940s, members of Congress and factions in the federal government began to amass an effort in what historians point to as the beginning of an era—the termination era. The termination era, – the attempt to completely terminate federally recognized tribes, became the greatest threat to tribal sovereignty in the 20th century.

 

First NCAI Executive Council as Elected in 1944

 

President – Judge Napoleon B. Johnson, Cherokee

 

Vice-President – Edward L. Rogers, Minnesota Chippewa

 

Treasurer – George G LaMotte,

Wisconsin Chippewa

 

Secretary - Dan Madrano,

 Caddo Council Members

 

Stephen DeMers,

Flathead Reservation, Montana

 

Henry Throssell,

Papago Reservation (modern-day Tohono O'odham)

 

William Firethunder,

Pineridge Reservation

 

Luke Gilbert,

Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation

 

Howard Gorman,

Navajo

(William) D’Arcy McNickle,

Flathead Indian Reservation

 

Archie Phinney,

Nez Perce

 

Arthur C. Parker,

Seneca

 

The resolutions addressed three broad themes: sovereignty, civil rights, and political recognition for all Indians. From these resolutions emerged two immediate concerns: the establishment of a claims commission for tribes to litigate old land claims against the government and the securing of voting rights for Indians in New Mexico and Arizona

 

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