Person

Jacqueline Pata

Occupation:

Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development (Clinton Administration)

Jacqueline Pata is an Alaska Native political activist and is the outgoing executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the lobbying organization which functions as the advocacy representative for treaty-recognized tribal governments. Prior to joining NCAI, Pata served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration.

Pata is the longest serving executive director for NCAI, a job she took in June 2001. After NCAI suspended her as executive director from October 2018 through February 2019 amid dispute over her handling of accusations against the NCAI general counsel, she announced her pending resignation in February 2019 amid a shakeup in the organization sparked by reports of an abusive workplace and sexual harassment. She intended to remain in the position until NCAI hires her successor, as of early 2019. [1]

Background

Pata is a citizen of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes. Despite stepping down from the NCAI, she holds various other positions, including Fourth Vice President of the Central Councils of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. She serves on several boards, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the George Gustave Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, the Native American Advisory Council for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the Sealaska Corporation, one of thirteen Alaska regional corporations established by the federal government to administer the settlement of Alaska Native land claims. [2]

During the Clinton administration, she was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She came to HUD after serving as the executive director of the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority based in Juneau, Alaska. [3]

She is the former vice chair of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. She also served as chairwoman of the National American Indian Housing Council and was appointed to the National Commission on American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Housing. [4]

Pata reportedly plans to return to her old job as executive director of the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority where she would handle millions in federal funds to provide affordable housing to southeast Alaska residents. [5]

“Change the Mascot”

Pata and Ray Halbritter, a representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, led the “Change the Mascot” movement to try to force the Washington Redskins football team to drop their name, considered pejorative toward Native Americans. [6]

In July 2017, the Pata and Halbritter wrote a commentary in Time after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the team could move forward with getting its trademark. “The team now proudly stands with others, like the National Socialist Party of America and cross-burning bigots as famous voices of bigotry who needed landmark court decisions to spread their hate.” [7]

Pata lashed out at a Washington Post poll that found 90 percent of self-identified Native Americans were “not bothered” by the football team’s name, arguing that Native American organizations have opposed the name. She said of the Post: “[A]nyone can create a poll on any issue. The survey doesn’t recognize the psychological impacts these racist names and imagery have on American Indian and Alaska Natives.” [8]

In November 2017, she and Halbritter co-wrote a commentary in The Independent calling for “all journalists covering the Washington-New York [Giants] game on Thursday to honour the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday by pledging to refrain from using the Washington team’s offensive R-word name in their coverage.” [9]

Controversies

Spouse

NCAI suspended Pata for one week in 2014 after her the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians sued her husband and fellow NCAI employee Chris Pata among others for racketeering related to the theft and misuse of millions in tribal funds. [10] This was the NCAI’s first disciplinary action against her during the 18-year tenure running the organization.

In 2017, Chris Pata allegedly had a conflict with his supervisor; Jaqueline Pata brought in a third-party moderator but did not recuse herself from the matter, contrary to NCAI protocol. High Country News also reported that employees involved in the matter alleged to board members that Jacqueline Pata retaliated against them. [11]

Work Environment

High Country News alleged that Jacqueline Pata was aware as early as 2014 of allegations of sexual, racial and other workplace harassment from top officials in NCAI. [12]

The most prominent allegations involve John Dossett, a non-native general counsel for the organization. Dossett denied misconduct at a June 2016 NCAI conference in Spokane, Washington. Pata was reportedly informed about the allegation against Dossett within two weeks and acknowledged the complaint two months later; Pata allegedly accused the woman who made the complaint of having a substance abuse problem, according to High Country News. [13]

Over the two years following the Dossett allegations, NCAI lost a reported 20 staff including the chief financial officer, the director of operations, and deputy director. In October 2018, the NCAI suspended Pata after about 40 member tribes issued a vote of “no confidence” in Pata’s leadership or otherwise demanded her ouster. [14]

After Pata’s suspension in October, the NCAI executive committee named an ad hoc committee for a complete internal review of the organization. [15] In February 2019, Pata announced her resignation after 18 years, but would remain until a successor is hired. [16]

References

  1. “Timeline: National Congress of American Indians in Turmoil and Transition.” Indianz. February 22, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/02/22/timeline-national-congress-of-american-i.asp.
  2. Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director. National Congress of American Indians. Accessed April 9, 2019. http://www.ncai.org/about-ncai/ncai-leadership/jacqueline-johnson-executive-director.
  3. Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director. National Congress of American Indians. Accessed April 9, 2019. http://www.ncai.org/about-ncai/ncai-leadership/jacqueline-johnson-executive-director.
  4. Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director. National Congress of American Indians. Accessed April 9, 2019. http://www.ncai.org/about-ncai/ncai-leadership/jacqueline-johnson-executive-director.
  5. Agoyo, Acee. “National Congress of American Indians Tries to Move Past Turmoil.” Indianz.com. February 20, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/02/20/national-congress-of-american-indians-at.asp
  6. Pata, Jacqueline and Halbritter, Ray. “The NFL Needs to Stop Promoting a Racial Slur.” Time. July 26, 2017. Accessed April 9, 2019. http://time.com/4859656/washington-redskins-dan-snyder-supreme-court/
  7. Pata, Jacqueline and Halbritter, Ray. “The NFL Needs to Stop Promoting a Racial Slur.” Time. July 26, 2017. Accessed April 9, 2019. http://time.com/4859656/washington-redskins-dan-snyder-supreme-court/
  8. Press Release. “NCAI Response to New Poll on R*skins Team Name.” National Congress of American Indians. May 19, 2016. Accesses April 9, 2019. http://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2016/05/19/ncai-response-to-new-poll-on-r-skins-team-name
  9. Pata, Jacqueline and Halbritter, Ray. “This Thanksgiving Native Americans Will be Insulted in the Most Offensive Way Possible.” The Independent. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/thanksgiving-nfl-game-washington-redskins-native-americans-insult-offensive-a8068896.html.
  10. Martin, Nick. “Head of Nation’s Top Native Advocacy Group Will Resign Over Handling of Harassment Allegations.” Splinter. February 20, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://splinternews.com/head-of-nations-top-native-advocacy-group-will-resign-o-1832755702
  11. Ahtone, Tristan. “National Congress of American Indians Roiled by Claims of Harassment and Misconduct.” High Country News. October 18, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.hcn.org/articles/tribal-affairs-national-congress-of-american-indians-roiled-by-claims-of-harassment-and-misconduct
  12. Ahtone, Tristan. “National Congress of American Indians Roiled by Claims of Harassment and Misconduct.” High Country News. October 18, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.hcn.org/articles/tribal-affairs-national-congress-of-american-indians-roiled-by-claims-of-harassment-and-misconduct.
  13. Ahtone, Tristan. “National Congress of American Indians Roiled by Claims of Harassment and Misconduct.” High Country News. October 18, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.hcn.org/articles/tribal-affairs-national-congress-of-american-indians-roiled-by-claims-of-harassment-and-misconduct.
  14. Ahtone, Tristan. “National Congress of American Indians Roiled by Claims of Harassment and Misconduct.” High Country News. October 18, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://www.hcn.org/articles/tribal-affairs-national-congress-of-american-indians-roiled-by-claims-of-harassment-and-misconduct.
  15. Martin, Nick. Splinter. “A #MeToo Scandal is Brewing at the Nation’s Top Advocacy Group for Native Rights.” October 22, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019. https://splinternews.com/a-metoo-scandal-is-brewing-at-the-nations-top-advocacy-1829913115
  16. “Timeline: National Congress of American Indians in Turmoil and Transition.” Indianz. February 22, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/02/22/timeline-national-congress-of-american-i.asp.

Connected Organizations

  1. Clinton Administration (Government Agency)
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  2. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (Government Agency)
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs (Clinton Administration)
  3. Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) (Non-profit)
    Board Member
  4. National Congress of American Indians (Non-profit)
    Executive Director (2001-Present)
  5. National Congress of American Indians Fund (Non-profit)
    Executive Director (2001-Present)
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