In an overwhelming victory, Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp was appointed as president of the National Congress of American Indians on Thursday at the 76th Annual NCAI Convention in Albuquerque.
“I believe there’s tremendous strength and power across Indian Country and I’m excited to unify Tribal Nations to advance a new agenda around Tribal sovereignty, civil rights, economic prosperity, and to harness all the strength and energy we know lies within Indian Country,” Sharp declared in a video promoting her candidacy for the presidency of the NCAI, the oldest and largest American Indian organization, with 566 member Tribes.
In her acceptance speech at the 76th Annual NCAI Convention, Sharp paid homage to her ancestors and delivered a message of commitment to Indian Country.
“I am nothing without the ability to carry on the teachings of our ancestors. I commit here, today, now, to carry every bit of the strength that lies within Quinault — and this is only a fraction of that — every bit of strength that’s represented in these rooms, because the challenge we have, it’s necessary, and I’m confident that those challenges we have, we’re going to accomplish those, and we’re going to succeed far greater than anything that we could possibly imagine today, because that is the future that our Creator has not only promised us, but that’s the future that our ancestors dreamed of and hoped for, and we are the generation that’s going to fulfill every bit of those. Nothing will stop us. Together we are strong; together we are mighty; and together we are unstoppable,” Sharp said.
Sharp also noted that she’s proud to follow in the footsteps of her mentor, Joseph DeLaCruz, who served as president for 22 years of the Quinault Indian Nation and as NCAI President from 1981-1984.
Sharp earned nearly 62% of the vote with the runner up of the three other contenders garnering less than 18% of the vote. To win the election, a candidate must receive at least 51% of the vote.
Sharp, who is in her fourth term as President of the Quinault Indian Nation, is the third woman in NCAI history to serve as President. She has served as Vice President of the NCAI (elected in 2016) and former Northwest Area Vice President of NCAI for four years. She is a former president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, as well as a former chairperson of the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform.
As the newly elected NCAI President, pivotal to Sharp’s mission is ensuring that “Tribal Nations have political equality with not only the United States but countries globally.”
She continued, “Because we all know that the Creator gifted us with certain things, including the right to access traditional foods, the right to govern freely without external interference, access to our homelands. Those things that we all know to be true, but the United States, over the course of centuries, has worked to actively undermine and diminish those very precious resources that the Creator gifted to us. We’ve seen a recent turn in the United States, but we know it could be so much better for all of us across Indian Country,” she said.
“I feel as though at this point in time, we’re bringing the strength of Indian Country together with our cultures, our songs, our dances, and I’m looking forward to tapping into the strength and braintrust all across Indian Country, because this is a new day and a new chapter,” she added.
Sharp received her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 1995, also holds an advanced certificate in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University. Sharp graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington at the age of 19. She is in her fourth term as President of the Quinault Indian Nation.