New career moves for former National Indian Gaming Commission chair Jonodev Chaudhuri

Chaudhuri Joins Quarles & Brady in Washington, D.C. and is also named Muscogee (Creek) Nation Ambassador - Video interview included

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP have concurrently announced the newest career aspirations of the former National Indian Gaming Commission chair Jonodev Chaudhuri of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

In 2013, Jonodev Chaudhuri was designated by President Barack Obama to serve as acting chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission. He was later unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2015 to chair the agency. While there, Chaudhuri oversaw the $32.4 billion Indian gaming industry.

As previously reported in Indian Country Today, Chaudhuri was also senior counselor to the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs providing guidance to national policy issues including Indian gaming, economic development, energy, Alaskan affairs, and tribal recognition.

Chaudhuri has practiced law for more than 15 years representing tribal nations and commercial entities and also served as a judge on five different tribal courts, including chief justice of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court, the highest court of the fourth largest tribe in the nation. Chaudhuri also has served as a community organizer, adjunct professor, public defender, legal services director, and author.

Originally from Tempe, Arizona, but very much tied to his family roots in Oklahoma, Chaudhuri graduated in 1993 with a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1999. Chairman Chaudhuri’s volunteer and lifetime service have been spent on many issues regarding underrepresented communities.

See related coverage:

Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri announces departure from National Indian Gaming Commission

Looking 30 years ahead: Forum on Indian gaming focuses on self-determination

A foe became an ally: Commemorating 30 years of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

The State of Indian Gaming: An Exit Interview With NIGC Chair Jonodev Chaudhuri

Both the prestigious law firm and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation made the press announcements Tuesday that Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, outgoing chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission. He will chair the firm’s Indian Law and Policy Group from its Washington office, effective May 20 — and that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has named citizen Chaudhuri as the Ambassador for the Nation. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Ambassador will strengthen the Nation’s sovereignty and allow for a sustained Muscogee (Creek) Nation presence in Washington, D.C.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s official announcement was posted on their site here, and the Quarles and Brady announcement was posted here.

A video interview with Jonodev Chaudhuri and Indian Country Today's Vincent Schilling

Chaudhuri’s role as Muscogee (Creek) Nation Ambassador

According to the release, the ambassador post was created to uphold the historic sovereign-to-sovereign relationship between Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the U.S. The Ambassador will take part in the federal executive and congressional discussions that affect Muscogee (Creek) national interests. It is difficult for Muscogee (Creek) Nation leadership to attend many of the meetings at the U.S. Capitol while still attending to the day-to-day operations of the nation.

“Now, more than ever, it is very important for us to have a voice in D.C. The nation needed an official onsite advocate,” Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd said in the release.

“It has been the honor of my professional life to serve at the NIGC,” Chaudhuri said in the release. “During the five-and-a-half years I have served as chairman or acting chair, the agency has not only upheld its regulatory responsibilities by adhering to the letter of the law in implementing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but we have done so in a manner that is true to the spirit and explicit purpose of the law: to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments.”

In the release, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation highlighted his career achievements, including his dedication to his Nation as well as highlighting the contributions of his mother.

Chaudhuri has maintained a strong relationship with MCN throughout both his personal and professional lives. His late mother, Jean (Hill) Chaudhuri, was an example of a strong Muscogee woman and leader. She was very active during her lifetime in Creek cultural affairs and national Native American advocacy.

Before she passed away, she co-wrote with Chaudhuri’s father, Joy, the book “A Sacred Path: The Way of the Muscogee Creeks.” Chaudhuri is of the Bear Clan and is an active member of Nuyaka Ceremonial Ground. His family church is Green Leaf Baptist in Okemah, Okla.

Chaudhuri has served as an MCN Supreme Court Judge from 2006-2012 and recently has served the Nation in other capacities. He has spent years advocating for tribal sovereignty as a practicing Indian law attorney… “I look forward to advancing critical policy and helping to implement long-term strategic planning to ensure that MCN preserves and enhances its role as a leader in Indian Country,” Chaudhuri stated. “I am extraordinarily humbled and honored to serve my Nation, and I will do so to the absolute best of my abilities.”

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation stated that, “Due to the structure of the ambassador position, Chaudhuri will resume practicing Indian law outside the scope of the ambassadorship. This will allow him to stay up-to-date on the latest issues facing Indian Country adding valuable insight to his experience.”

Chaudhuri’s role as chair of the Quarles & Brady firm’s Indian Law and Policy Group

On Tuesday, Quarles & Brady in Washington, D.C. made the official announcement that Chaudhuri would be joining their team.

The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP today announced that Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, outgoing Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), will chair the firm’s Indian Law and Policy Group from its Washington, D.C. office, effective May 20.

“While I will dearly miss my incredible team at the NIGC and the important work we performed on behalf of Indian country, I’m thrilled to be joining another incredible team at Quarles & Brady, a firm whose philosophy, resources and talented attorneys make it perfectly poised to profoundly impact the landscape of Indian country in the years ahead,” said Chaudhuri in the release. “I look forward to utilizing some of the same strategic planning and problem-solving skills that were central to our work at the NIGC to work with my new teammates to develop targeted solutions to complex problems which, in turn, will help achieve new opportunities for Indian country.”

Chaudhuri continued, “The Indian Law and Policy Group, which includes highly-respected practitioners such as Thomas Springer, Luis Ochoa, and Samantha Skenandore, among others, already has an outstanding reputation of bringing best-in-class services to Native American communities and tribal nations across the country. We have the shared belief that tribal innovation and self-governance have been driving forces behind reaffirmed and expanded tribal sovereignty seen in the last several decades – from gaming to the restoration of significant decision-making authority over tribal lands – and we are committed to supporting tribal nations in their pursuit of true self-determination. There’s no better group to help guide Indian country into a bright and prosperous future.”

“Chairman Chaudhuri’s leadership at the NIGC was marked by a steadfast commitment to supporting tribal self-determination, tribal economic development, and self-sufficiency,” said Springer in the release. “No doubt the resounding success of the industry in recent years is due, in large part, to his sound application of law to policy and governance. Now, with the addition of his leadership, we expect Quarles & Brady to be at the forefront of policy, litigation, and advocacy supporting the sovereignty of tribal nations and the welfare of their citizens.”

Chaudhuri summed up his thoughts on the move on his Facebook page:

"I can’t tell you how profoundly honored I am to be given this opportunity to serve my people – the people of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation as Ambassador. I am also thrilled to be joining an incredible law firm, Quarles & Brady, to help lead an incredible team of Indian law and policy attorneys. Although the positions are separate and independent, they certainly complement each other well, and I am so grateful for this chance to continue working to strengthen tribal sovereignty and expand tribal economic opportunity. Many Mvtos to Principal Chief Floyd and the entire leadership of MCN. I will serve to the best of my ability and endeavor to speak humbly, yet forcefully to convey the will of the Nation at all times. Many thanks to my soon-to-be colleagues at Quarles. I am honored to join your ranks and to work with you for the betterment of Indian country! "

"I am sad to leave my colleagues at the NIGC. We have been keenly aware of the limited nature of our time together, am I am proud of our collective work to make that time count. Mvto to Team NIGC and everyone throughout Indian country that has been part of the agency’s journey these last six years. Onward and upward! "

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