Ambassador position created to serve in U.S. capitol
Washington — Jonodev Chaudhuri spent his last days as the National Indian Gaming Commission chairman going from meeting to meeting, taking care of business on borrowed time.
His six-year run as chairman had been temporary since his official term ended in April 2018.
Something was waiting for him, a way to reconnect with his tribe while remaining in Washington D.C.
The Nation had ambassadors in the past, the royalty, Miss and Jr. Miss, serve as goodwill ambassadors and Chitto Harjo was cited in legislation for the time he served as one to oppose the allotment of Indian lands.
“The forces that went into making the timing work out the way it did, not only is the writing on the wall that it’s time for me to leave at [NIGC] but it’s time to fulfill what I believe is an important part of my path to serve Creek Nation.”
Through amendments in the original legislation for the MCN ambassador, it would no longer be necessary for the National Council to confirm, but be contractual through the office of principal chief for the length of the principal chief’s term.
“I fully recognize under this position, my role is not to be a decision maker, my role is to be a communicator, a communicator of the will of the people and the will of the people expressed through the leadership of [MCN] namely the principal chief in conjunction with the legislative body,” Chaudhuri said.
Advocacy is nothing new for Chaudhuri. During her lifetime his mother, Jean, perhaps best known as the author of ‘A Sacred Path: the way of the Muscogee Creeks’ had developed a reputation for her work and passion for her culture. She provided her son with what he would carry down his own path.
“Mom use to tell me whatever gifts you have, they don’t belong to you.” he said. “Those gifts are a test and that test is how well are you going to use whatever’s given to you for the betterment of the community.”
So far, time has held Chaudhuri’s story as a lawyer with a focus on Indian law, a MCN Supreme Court judge and NIGC chairman. The combination of these points meld into his next step as the MCN ambassador.
“I want to be as effective during this period as I can be and make the most of it,” Chaudhuri said. “The issues that [MCN] is advocating for are profoundly important…the sovereignty Creek Nation is trying to advance is important for all of Indian Country.”