Joyce Begay-Foss, Chairperson
Chairperson Joyce Begay-Foss is Diné (Navajo) and an accomplished museum professional, lecturer, writer, and Diné textile weaver.
For many years, prior to her retirement, Chairperson Begay-Foss served as Director of Education at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Operated by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum preserves and interprets historic and contemporary collections and information about New Mexico's Native peoples. Chairperson Begay-Foss received the 2019 Award of Excellence in National History Leadership from the American Association for State and Local History for her Lifeways exhibition at the Museum which explored the lives of regional Apache tribes bound by the Athabaskan language. She also curated the Museum’s highly regarded Spider Woman’s (Na ashje’ii 'Asdzáá) Gift: Navajo Weaving Traditions exhibition of weavings from the 1850s through the 1890s and contributed to the exhibition catalogue.
As a Diné weaver for over 40 years, she has won numerous awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show, and the San Felipe Arts and Crafts Show. She draws on this expertise as a writer, instructor, curator and lecturer on traditional Native textiles and dyeing techniques.
One of Chairperson Begay-Foss’s main concerns is the impact of the import market and fraudulent misrepresentation of Native American art forms in all aspects, including the material culture of Native peoples throughout the country and internationally. Chairperson Begay-Foss is also committed to addressing issues of cultural and intellectual property rights of the Southwestern Tribes, especially with Diné weavers.
Marcus Monenerkit, Vice Chairperson
With over 27 years of experience in the museum field, Vice Chairperson Marcus Monenerkit is still energized about the universal constructive possibilities for American Indian Art. Beginning his career in 1996 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Vice Chairperson Monenerkit has continually made efforts to increase awareness and recognition of the inherent, interwoven, and key roles of art and culture in American Indian communities. In 1998 he moved to Arizona, was appointed Assistant Registrar at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and joined the ranks of the Museum Association of Arizona. Serving in multiple positions within the Association over the years, he has held the position of Vice President since 2018.
Currently Director of Community Engagement at the Heard Museum, his work focuses on producing cultural art workshops in regional Indian communities, documenting the process of the transference of cultural art knowledge where permissible, and sharing that documentation with the broader American public through special films and lectures. Vice Chairperson Monenerkit has a firm belief that art works for the greater public benefit, creating expressive patterns of understanding between individuals, communities and beyond. He believes art provides a vital link in a tripartite model of human development, establishing lessons for increasing the capacity of human, social, and economic capital.
To view Vice-Chairperson Monenerkit's public service announcement, please watch this video.
Jamie Okuma, Commissioner
Commissioner Jamie Okuma is Luiseno, Shoshone-Bannock, Wailaki, and Okinawan who is also an enrolled member of the La Jolla band of Indians in Southern California where she lives and works. She specializes in one-of-a-kind pieces that are hand-executed exclusively by the artist herself in all details of process, while also designing ready to wear fashions.
As early as Commissioner Okuma can remember her life has been in the art world in one way or another.
After high school Commissioner Okuma took graphic design classes at Palomar college in San Marcos, California before attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
From the age of 18 she has been a professional artist completely devoted to her art. Exhibiting her work at the Heard Indian Art Market in Phoenix, Arizona and at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has garnered a total of seven Best in Show awards. Four from the Heard, and three from the Santa Fe Indian Market. One of only two artists to achieve this distinction.
Since that time her work has been shown in Germany, Australia, France and many art institutions and museums throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Commissioner Okuma has work in the permanent collections of The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Denver Art Museum and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
Jordan Ann Craig, Commissioner
Commissioner Jordan Ann Craig is a Northern Cheyenne artist living and working in Pojoaque Valley, New Mexico. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and received her B.A. from Dartmouth College.
In 2017, Commissioner Craig was awarded the H. Allen Brooks Traveling Fellowship as well as the Eric and Barbara Dobkin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research SAR). In 2019, she was awarded artist residencies at the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) and the Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) Program. Her work is shown nationally and internationally. Currently, Commissioner Jordan is painting in Northern New Mexico.
Walter Lamar, Commissioner
Commissioner Walter Lamar is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana and a descendent of the Wichita Tribe of Oklahoma. His storied law enforcement career included 19 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he served as a Special Agent/Supervisory Special Agent until 2000. Upon his departure from the FBI, he was appointed U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Law Enforcement Services. In 2001, Commissioner Lamar was appointed DOI Senior Advisor to the Director-Office of Law Enforcement and Security to ensure protection of the Nation’s dams, monuments, and icons. Upon his 2005 retirement he founded Lamar Associates, a consulting firm he continues to manage that focuses on Indian Country safety and security. In 2015, he served as a Senior Advisor to the Director Pentagon Force Protection Agency. Commissioner Lamar has received numerous awards over the years, including two FBI Shields of Bravery, Anadarko American Indian Exposition American Indian of the Year in 1998, Southwestern Oklahoma State University Distinguished Alumni in 2008, and National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development American Indian Business Owner of the Year in 2012. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Native Forward Scholars Fund, as well as the President of the Board of Directors for the National Native American Hall of Fame.