Courtesy Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
Judi M. Gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA). Photo courtesy of the NCIA.

Judi M. Gaiashkibos: NMAI’s Meet Native America Series

Dennis Zotigh

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

Judi M. Gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications Native Daughters Project.

Can you give us your Native name, its English translation and/or a nickname?

My nickname is Brown Sugar.

What responsibilities do you have to the Native peoples of Nebraska?

Our agency’s mission is to enhance the cause of Indian rights and to develop solutions to problems common to all Nebraska Indians. We are the state liaison between the four headquarters tribes of the Omaha, Ponca, Santee Sioux, and Winnebago of Nebraska. I help ensure that the sovereignty of both tribal and state governments is recognized and acted upon in a true government-to-government relationship. The commission serves off-reservation Indian communities by helping assure they are afforded the right to equitable opportunities in housing, employment, education, health care, economic development, and human and civil rights within Nebraska.

The commission's goals are accomplished through advocacy, education, and promotion of legislation. We actively promote state and federal legislation beneficial to tribes and Indian citizens in Nebraska, and monitor and assess the law's impact. We assist in development and implementation of state and federal programs that provide equitable services and opportunities for Nebraska's Indian families in the areas of housing, employment, economic development, health, human services, law and order, tribal sovereignty, and civil and human rights. I educate legislators, educators, school-age youth, and the general public on the issues and legislation that impact Indian country in Nebraska, especially the availability of government and private resources to improve the lives of Nebraska's Indian citizens.

Specific areas that we are currently focusing on are youth and family, economic development, governance, and public relations.


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