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#MeToo Hits National Congress of American Indians

#MeToo Hits National Congress of American Indians

The Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has been placed on leave as questions mount about her handling of a #MeToo scandal at the organization and other long-standing employee complaints. Jackie Pata, the organization's highest-ranking staffer and a citizen of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes, is facing at least 40 tribes who have issued a vote of no confidence in her leadership. As Tribal Leaders prepare for a milestone conference in Denver, Pata will be sidelined. At issue? The organization's former General Counsel. John Dossett held the post until earlier this year when he was fired amid allegations he was harassing, intimidating, and pressuring female employees. But some viewed the delay in firing him as a failure of NCAI, which positions itself as an advocate for Native women, who are victimized at rates far higher than any other group. Former employees say Dossett’s treatment of women was common knowledge among the staff including Pata. And though she is sidelined, some still say the move doesn’t go as far as sought by some in Indian Country. Instead of authorizing an investigation by an outside entity, NCAI, for now, has tasked an “ad hoc committee” with looking into the allegations. With Pata out of the picture, NCAI will be overseen by a “team of NCAI senior leadership staff,” according to the Saturday night statement. The group consists of Virginia Davis, a Senior Policy Advisor at the organization, Derrick Beetso, the recently-named General Counsel, and Yvette Roubideaux, a former federal government official who heads up NCAI’s Policy Research Center. The naming of a leadership team also sidesteps the new Deputy Director at NCAI, Ahniwake Rose, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and was recently tapped to fill the vacant position, just as Pata was facing questions about her own leadership. Rose has served as Executive Director of the National Indian Education Association since 2012. There’s a lot more to this story. Get it here.

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