The Polis administration has picked Gwen Carr to serve as executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.
A member of the Heron Clan of the Cayuga Nation of New York, Carr has more than 30 years' experience working with tribal, state and federal governments.
Carr’s founded the Wisconsin American Indian Democratic Caucus and was the first national political director for American Indians at the Democratic National Committee.
She also worked in intergovernmental affairs at the White House during the Clinton administration and served as the Deputy Secretary for the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. She was the first tribal liaison for the state of Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
“Her incredible experience and knowledge will be critical for continuing the state of Colorado’s important government-to-government relationships with the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, Southern Ute Indian tribe and the other 46 historic tribes of Colorado as well as urban American Indian/Alaska natives,” said Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, who sits on the commission, in a statement.
Carr's resume includes working on the Lake Butte de Morts Causeway project, the largest American Indian-designed, engineered and built transportation project in the United States, the Colorado governor's office said in a press release.
She also served as the business development and outreach director for the $1.6 billion U.S. 41 project in northeast Wisconsin.
"My life has been about transformation," Carr said in a 2011 interview. "I found out I was an American Indian when I was in my late 20s. I met my birth mother; she was a Cayuga living in Ithaca, N.Y.
"It was a life-changing experience for me. I started going to Indian events and learning the history of the American Indians. I went to Canada to talk to the traditional chiefs. They said, 'You were sent away by the creator to learn the ways of power and the ways of the white world, and bring that back to your people and use it to their benefit.'”