70th Annual NCAI convention opens today in Tulsa

Opening ceremonies begin at noon today for the 70th Annual National Congress of American Indians conference, hosted in Tulsa this year by area Natives. 

Most of the conference activities are located at the Cox Business Center.

NCAI’s outgoing President Jefferson Keel and Executive Director Jacqueline Pata will open the Convention. That will take place on the 2nd Floor F of the Cox Business Center. 

To watch via YouTube or Google Hangout, visit:

Keel and Pata will focus on:

·        Impact of the shutdown, sequestration, and budget issues on Indian Country.
·        The ongoing debate over the use of racist mascots in professional sports.
·        Baby Veronica – what occurred, what work is continuing, and how we can prevent another removal of a Native child from her family and culture.
·        The challenges facing the incoming NCAI President and the successes during outgoing President Keel’s time in office.

NCAI’s 70th Annual Convention will mark the end of the second consecutive term of NCAI President Jefferson Keel, Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. The organization’s by-laws limit the President from serving more than two consecutive terms. By the end of the week, the organization’s membership will have elected a new President of the organization, as well as members of the executive committee - 1st Vice President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, and twelve regional Vice-Presidents. Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle is running for a regional vice president spot.

Keel served as President of NCAI during a period that many consider as the most successful for national Indian policy gains in the last twenty years. Keel was unanimously re-elected at the organization’s Annual Convention in Portland, Oregon in 2011 by NCAI membership.  
NCAI will also be celebrating the organization’s 70th Annual Convention since the organization was founded at the first Convention in 1944 in Denver, Colorado. The original meeting included close to 80 delegates from 50 tribes and associations in 27 states who formed the organization to thwart the emerging threat of termination of tribal nations.