Jefferson Keel, lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, has been elected president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), becoming the first tribal leader from Oklahoma elected to the post in the 65-year-history of the organization. Keel has served as NCAI first vice-president since 2005 and served prior to that as a tribal delegate.
“I am honored to serve in this capacity for NCAI,” said Keel. “Just as I represent the people of the Chickasaw Nation as lieutenant governor, I will proudly represent all of Indian Country in this role. In the middle of this election, there was a great sense of unity among all tribal leaders to advance tribal sovereignty and the welfare of all Indian people. Unity is the only way we will make progress, and I pledge to work together to seize the opportunities that are before all of the tribal nations.”
Keel is a retired U.S. Army officer with more than 20 years of active duty service including the Vietnam War. He earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University in Ada and completed his Master of Science degree at Troy University. He has background experience in social services and tribal health programs. Keel is in his third elected term as lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country.
NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people, and rights.