News release from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation:
MISSION, OR – The Board of Trustees for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) approved the selection of Donald Sampson to be the Tribe’s Executive Director. His official start will be the week of January 17, 2022. Mr. Sampson, who is a hereditary chief of the Walúulapam (‘Walla Walla people’), previously served as Executive Director from 2003 to 2010. He also served as Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission from 1998 to 2003 and was elected as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for CTUIR for two consecutive terms, from 1993 to 1997.
“After the Board interviewed the fine candidates recommended by our Hiring Team, it was determined that Don’s knowledge, experience, and preparation for the position of Executive Director is exceptional, as is his familiarity with our government and community,” said Kat Brigham, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Mr. Sampson said of his appointment as Executive Director, “I am very grateful to the Board of Trustees for their trust and I am honored to serve my people of the Walla Walla, Cayuse, and Umatilla and our Tribal government in the best way that I can. I believe first and foremost that we defend and restore our treaty reserved rights and natural resources. I will strive for excellence in health, education, employment, housing, and other critical services for all of our Tribal citizens – youth and elders. It is important to perpetuate and restore our languages, cultural lifeways, and aboriginal homelands long into the future. Further, we must prepare our community for climate resiliency – now. And most important, I am committed to building and being part of a cohesive team with the Board of Trustees, the General Council, Commissions and Committees, our community, and our tribal employees to make this happen.”
The Office of the Executive Director serves as the direct liaison between the Board of Trustees and tribal government staff. As Executive Director, Mr. Sampson will therefore oversee the work of the approximately 560 current employees of the Confederated Tribes’ tribal government. The operating budget of the CTUIR government for 2022 is projected at approximately $137 million. This does not include the expenditures of other non-government tribally-owned entities, including Wildhorse Resort and Casino, Cayuse Holdings, Nixyáawii Community Financial Services, and Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center.
CTUIR is in the process of restructuring the Office of the Executive Director as the Board has approved the addition of a second Deputy Executive Director in 2022. The Board also approved several new additional staff positions in a number of Departments. Mr. Sampson will be able to interview and select his two Deputies once the job descriptions for those positions are posted. Mr. Sampson said “I am confident we will fill these important positions with qualified tribal members. Tribal preference is a priority for the Board of Trustees and will be for me as well.”