By Martha Saenz
As Native American Heritage Month comes to an end, the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators celebrates its leadership, elected earlier this month following the NCSL Legislative Summit.
The National Caucus of Native American State Legislators (NCNASL) works to promote a better understanding of state-tribal issues among policymakers and the public at large.
American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian members hope to encourage a broad awareness of state-tribal issues across the country and raise the profile of tribal issues throughout the state legislative arena.
NCNASL typically meets annually in conjunction with NCSL and every two years elects an Executive Committee that guides the caucus and sets caucus priorities. The 88-member group spanning 21 states covers a wide variety of policy topics at the intersection of state and tribal governments affecting the 9.7 million Native Americans living across the country.
2021-2023 Executive Committee:
- Chair: Senator Benny Shendo, New Mexico (D)
- Vice-Chair: Representative Ruth Buffalo, North Dakota (D)
- Secretary: Representative Ajay Pittman, Oklahoma (D)
- Treasurer: Representative Jonathan Windy-Boy, Montana (D)
- Peacekeeper: Representative Ken Luttrell, Oklahoma (R)
“I look forward to leading the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators for another two years," said Shendo. "I am honored to join a distinguished group of Native leaders to guide the Caucus. Together, the officers will work to fulfill the mission of the caucus and improve outcomes for Native communities.
"We remain committed to advancing and growing membership and educating our legislative colleagues to build state/tribal relationships that respect sovereignty and the legislative institutions. We’ll continue to use this platform to elevate our voices and work with our partners through the Quad Caucus to expand our reach."
Each year, NCSL tracks more than 250 measures in the State-Tribal Legislative Tracking Database related to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiians. Members of the caucus share solutions and discuss policy strategies throughout the year during educational events that occur both in person and virtually.
Martha Saenz is associate director of NCSL's State-Tribal Insititute.