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NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention

Dennis Welsh speaks after winning the position of treasurer at the National Congress of American Indians convention in 2013. File photo © Indianz.Com

The 71st annual convention of the National Congress of American Indians was marred by allegations against Treasurer Dennis Welsh on Thursday.

Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, came to the floor with a troubling account of an incident that occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. He said Welsh threatened several people with acts of violence and intimidated a group of young women on Wednesday evening.

“This brings great discredit upon the organization," Keel, a former president of NCAI, said yesterday. Keel said Welsh was apparently "intoxicated" when it happened.

Acting on a motion proposed by Keel and seconded by Juana Majel-Dixon, a council member for the Pauma Band of Mission Indians who serves as co-chair of NCAI's Task Force on Violence Against Women, the organization agreed to convene a panel to investigate Welsh's behavior.

Almost immediately, the panel -- composed of all present and former NCAI presidents in attendance at the convention -- went into a private session at the Hyatt Regency to discuss the situation. They promised to come back with recommendations this morning -- the final day of the week-long event -- about Welsh's future.

"The committee will include president Jefferson Keel, president Ron Allen, president Joe Garcia and myself to review this," Brian Cladoosby, NCAI's current president, said yesterday.

Welsh, as a council member for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, won the NCAI treasurer position at the 2013 annual convention after facing no opponents. He was not present of the floor yesterday to respond to the allegations and no one spoke on his behalf.

If Welsh is removed, or if he steps down, it will mark another recent change on NCAI's executive board. Vice President Michael Finley, who also was elected in 2013, had to vacate his post after losing his bid for re-election as chairman of the Colville Tribes of Washington.

Welsh's potential departure would leave Cladoosby, who serves as chairman of the Swinomosh Tribe of Washington, as the only top NCAI leader still standing after last year's convention.

Randy Noka is sworn in as vice president of the National Congress of American Indians by Juanita Ahtone, the chair of the Resolutions Committee, on Monday, October 27. Photo © Indianz.Com

The remainder of Finley's term as vice president is being served by Randy Noka, a council member for the Narragansett Tribe. He was sworn into the post on Monday.

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