Mon, Jan

Winieki leads tribal council


The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona has elected Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane RussellWiniecki to serves as its president of the Board of Directors.

Established in 1952 as a unified voice for Arizona’s tribal governments, the ITCA is one of the oldest and largest inter-tribal organizations in the U.S.

The ITCA operates more than 30 projects and employs a staff of 70. Twenty-one of the state’s 22 tribes are members of the organization.

According to a press release via Winiecki’s office, ITCA exists for a broader purpose, “to ensure the selfdetermination of Indian tribal governments through their participation in the development of the policies and programs which affect their lives.”

“ITCA is a very complex organization with program areas that focus on health, research and environmental quality,” ITCA Executive Director Maria Dadgar said. “We look forward to Chairwoman Winiecki’s leadership as we continue our work leveraging state and federal resources on behalf of tribal nations in Arizona.”

“Over the years the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona has been the voice of unity on so many vital tribal issues including water, natural resources, endangered species, health and key legislation,” Winiecki said. “It is such an honor to be elected by my fellow tribal leaders.”

Elected in 2016, Wikiecki is YAN’s first female head of government in four decades. Praising her home state for its history as the “last stronghold of traditional Native American culture,” Winiecki said that she hopes to help preserve her people’s complex history and culture.

“There’s a story about our culture,” Winiecki said. “It’s one I’d like to preserve .... We’re working with the youth to connect them to what we know.”

Though maintaining and strengthening cultural identity is at the top of Winiecki’s list of priorities, the chairwoman is also aware of how much needs to be done for tribes to receive their fair share of recognition for contributing to Arizona’s economy and culture.

For instance, Winiecki said, Cliff Castle Casino is the largest employer in the Verde Valley, poised to become even larger after its new hotel opens this summer. The casino’s contribution to Verde Valley’s economy, 

which includes upward of $200,000 in donations to local charities during the last decade, is substantial and ongoing. “That being said, we should be at the table,” Winiecki said. “I have a desire to see our tribe, and other tribes, recognized.”

Through ITCA, Winiecki hopes to communicate these contributions to the public. “It’s the story of not just the Yavapai-Apache,” Winiecki said. “It needs to be told.”

For more information on the Yavapai-Apache, contact the executive office of the chairwoman at (928) 567-1021 or visit yavapai-apache. org. For more information on the ITCA, contact (602) 258-4822 or visit itcaonline.com.

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