Affairs Director on Governor’s Staff

Governor Tina Kotek of Oregon recently said she hired a tribal affairs head for the first time. Washington has had a director of tribal relations since the early 1980s. Shana McConville Radford will be taking over this position for Oregon.

In northeast Oregon, McConville Radford was most recently the deputy executive director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Gov. Kotek said the state’s relationship with the nine independent Oregon tribes is based on open communication and honesty.

McConville Radford is now in charge of making decisions about state policy and consulting with groups. It was her job to say that she hoped her new job would help Oregon’s nine independent tribes be heard in the state’s government and policymaking.

McConville Radford said, “I think taking on this role is me doing my part.” “Preserve our traditions and culture.” Ensure our people are healthy and growing again, and get our resources back.

According to McConville Radford, this job has been waiting long because Oregon has so many independent tribes. This is how Washington has felt since 1983. Before that, in 1969, there was a job called “tribal advisor.” Idaho does have people who deal with tribal issues, but the governor’s office does not have a director role.

Under Governor Jay Inslee, Craig Bill was Washington’s tribal director. He said he thinks it shows that Oregon is taking steps to increase tribal involvement at the top level of state government. He said that the governments of Oregon’s tribes should be able to work together.

According to Gov. Inslee’s office, since 1999, every agency in Washington has had to have a tribal liaison post that reports to the top levels.

Director of Tribal Relations on The Governor's Staff.

Craig Bill has been Washington’s director of Indian affairs since the mid-2000s. When asked if he had any advice for McConville Radford, he said, “When we [Indigenous people] take these positions, we’re caught in a middle position—that’s kind of good.” It’s our job to make sure that tribal people are heard at the state level and that everyone has the same knowledge.

McConville Radford has over 15 years of experience in tribal relations, policy, facilitation, negotiation, and working with other governments, according to a news release from the state of Oregon. In addition to her job with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, McConville Radford was the director of the Flathead Agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where she worked with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana.

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Before that, she was a community consultant on energy, education, and health for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and worked there as the liaison for health and human services. During the 2020 Decennial Census, McConville Radford was responsible for the U.S. Census Bureau’s tribal and congressional partnerships. She made sure that the previously undercounted tribal nations in Oregon and Idaho were correctly counted.

McConville Radford said, “You must be able to work and understand the systems that most affect us.” “From the start, I’ve felt those effects. Feeling that way is something I know. Everyone in Oregon feels the effects of the policy, including my neighbour, cousin, son, and others. That’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in, and where I think I can make a difference, which is why I’m here.

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