Spokane Tribe Selects First Woman to Serve as Tribal Chair

Carol Evans will lead Spokane Tribe - First Woman Tribal Chair

Carol Evans will lead Spokane Tribe – First Woman Tribal Chair

Published August 11 , 2015

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON—The Spokane Tribal Business Council announced today that Carol Evans will serve as Chair.

Evans, who previously served as Vice-Chair, is the first woman selected to lead the Spokane Tribe of Indians sovereign government.

Evans grew up on the Spokane Reservation, and both her parents are members of the Tribe. After graduating from Wellpinit High School, Evans enrolled in Eastern Washington University. She returned to the Reservation when her husband, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, landed a job at one of the uranium mines.

Evans earned a Business Administration degree from EWU and eventually became a Certified Public Accountant, inactive. She was Executive Director of the Spokane Indian Housing Authority before joining tribal government as an accountant, eventually becoming Chief Financial Officer for 28 years.

She has four children ages 17 to 36.

Evans’ mother was the first woman elected to the Tribal Council, serving two terms from 1983-1989.

Evans joined the Tribal Council herself in 2013 and was re-elected in 2014. Council members are elected to staggered 3-year terms, and the 5-person Council selects a Chair and Vice-Chair annually.

“I came in to be a servant of the tribe. I’m excited to be a role model. I believe my duty is to take direction from the Council to keep us on track moving toward our common vision.”

Evans said she intends to continue the Tribe’s economic development in hospitality and recreation, and further exploring renewable energy. She will also emphasize health care, housing, completing the new West End Community Center, and environmental protection, particularly salmon restoration, which is culturally important to the Tribe.

“We have drug addiction and high unemployment. We need to address these issues to help our people heal. Our elders say, bring back the salmon and culture, and you will heal.”

Evans will focus on preserving and enhancing the native language. She is not a fluent Salish speaker, but can greet, pray and sing some of the prayers in Salish.

In 20 years, Evans had specific goals for the Spokane Tribe: Unemployment below the national average, 98 percent drug and alcohol free, enjoying a new Wellness Center, 50 percent fluent in the language, creating partnerships with federal and other agencies to build new housing and livable communities.

As for her history-making political position, Evans said: “When you look at our history, the chiefs were men, but women were movers even without the title. They were a vital part of the community, but not to a point of being a chieftess.”

“I’m not here to tell people what to do,” she added. “I’m here serve the community.”

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