Muscogee (Creek) Nation
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has named citizen Jonodev 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 Ambassador position was created to uphold the historic sovereign-to-sovereign relationship between the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the U.S. The Ambassador will take part in federal executive and congressional discussions that affect Muscogee (Creek) Nation 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.
This contractual position was created by National Council legislation, NCA 18-200. The Act sets the first term to expire December 31 of this year and following terms will align with the term of the elected Principal Chief.
The Ambassador is named by the Principal Chief and will work with both the Executive and Legislative Branches. The Ambassador will represent one unified tribal voice and communicate the will of the leadership.
This position does not allow for decisions to be made independently. The Ambassador will be a diplomat of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government, as opposed to serving as a lobbyist or an attorney.
Although this position was recently created, historically the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has sent diplomats to Washington, D.C., and as such, the creation of the position, as well as the naming of a capable and trusted citizen to serve as Ambassador, is not only a critical exercise of Muscogee (Creek) Nation sovereignty but one that is in keeping with past Muscogee (Creek) Nation practices.
“This is nothing new for us; even before Oklahoma statehood Chitto Harjo lobbied Congress to address allotment of communal lands,” Chief Floyd said.
A handful of forward-looking Tribal Nations have established similar diplomatic positions in recent decades, successfully enhancing their efforts to engage in long-term planning and advocacy. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation looks to build on these models to vigorously exercise its sovereign diplomacy.
Chaudhuri knows his way around D.C. He has served as National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman since 2013, a position nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
In a media release, Chaudhuri reflected on his time with the National Indian Gaming Commission.
“It has been the honor of my professional life to serve at the National Indian Gaming Commission,” Chaudhuri said. “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 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 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.”
Prior to serving as Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, he served as U.S. Department of the Interior Senior Counselor to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
Chaudhuri recently announced his departure from NIGC and he will begin serving as Ambassador May 16, 2019.
Chaudhuri has maintained a strong relationship with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation 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 a Muscogee (Creek) Nation 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.
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.
“I look forward to advancing critical policy and helping to implement long-term strategic planning to ensure that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation 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.”