A national tribal group with roots in Washington has a new, high-profile leader to help with emergency preparedness.
The association works to help tribes to prepare for floods, fires and other disasters and to make sure other governments work with tribes.
More than 300 people are attending the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council annual conference this week at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino. And on Monday, council officials announced they had created a separate organization focused on the whole country that will be led by the recently retired tribal affairs director for the Department of Homeland Security.
“The benefit is a united voice more than anything else,” said Steve Golubic, the new executive director of the National Tribal Emergency Management Council. “If we don’t speak for ourselves, nobody’s going to do it for us.”
Golubic, 63, has agreed to take the position as a volunteer and will work from his home in Wisconsin. The Northwest council is based in Snohomish, Wash. Before working at Homeland Security, he was the national tribal liaison for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Northwest council was formed shortly after 9/11 when the federal government began awarding grants to local and state governments to improve emergency response. But at the time, none of the nearly 30 federally recognized tribes in Washington had emergency management offices, said Lynda Zambrano, executive director of the Northwest council. Today, almost all of the state’s tribes do.
Golubic said tribes often have been neglected by federal, state and local government planning for disasters.
Claude Cox, chairman of the Northwest council, noted that as of this year tribes can go directly to FEMA to request a disaster declaration. Before, they had to work through state governments.
“We’re going to prepare our members to better govern themselves,” said Cox, a member of the Spokane Tribe and police chief for the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe in Darrington, Wash.
Members of the Northwest council include the Spokane, Colville, Kalispel, Coeur d’Alene and Nez Perce tribes.