Chief Allan, Ernie Stensgar and Cristina Danforth
Courtesy NAFOA
Chief Allan, Ernie Stensgar and Cristina Danforth

Ernie Stensgar Honored as Tribal Leader of the Year

Jack McNeel

The prestigious Tribal Leader of the Year Award was presented to Ernie Stensgar during the Award Luncheon of the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) with about 500 in attendance. The award was made on April 19 at the Gila River Indian Community’s Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Arizona.

Ernie Stensgar (Jack McNeel)Ernie Stensgar is Vice Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, a position he has held since 2007. Prior to that he served as chairman from 1986 through 2004. During these years he helped lead immense economic changes resulting now in an annual economic impact of $330 million.

He was described as “an exemplary tribal leader” by NAFOA Vice President VaRene Martin. “He inspires us to do the same. His commitment to tribal rights extends beyond his service to his own tribe,” Martin added.

Interviewed later, Ernie stated he didn’t know in advance of the award to come. “Absolutely not. I was aware of the organization but not the award. It was quite an honor to receive that, especially from the professionals in the room to recognize tribal leadership. They are young men and women who are going to be the future of Indian country. It’s quite an organization and I’m really proud to receive recognition from them.”

Ernie has always been a champion of tribal rights. Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman, Chief Allan, commented, “Ernie has played a part of every economic decision this tribe has made in the last 35 years or so. Our ability to provide jobs, healthcare, education, and infrastructure on our reservation wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the work that Ernie has done over his lifetime.”

Christina Danforth of the Oneida Nation is the new president of NAFOA.

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