Joe Sarcinella has dedicated his professional life to serving Indian Country, diligently working to better the lives of Native peoples. He represents federally-recognized Native American tribes, their enterprises, and businesses and individuals looking to work in Indian Country.
His passion as an attorney is finding ways to create economic sovereignty while preserving and promoting traditional Native cultures. He has successfully negotiated and structured a multimillion-dollar investment between two Tribal Nations economic development arms. He has led the corporate formation of a tribal hemp company and the development, finalization and implementation of the Tribe’s hemp code and USDA approved tribal hemp regulations.
Prior to Drummond Woodsum, Joe was the General Counsel of Atoske Holding Company, the economic development arm of The Chippewa Cree Tribe at the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana, where he managed an extensive legal portfolio, successfully led multiple litigation teams, and developed litigation strategies that ultimately saved his client millions of dollars on several occasions. Prior to that, he was the Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel for Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) where he advocated extensively for Indian Country parity in financial services and economic development.
He joined NAFSA after completing a 4-year term serving as the Senior Advisor & Liaison for Native American Affairs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. While in that role, Joe was the lead official monitoring Department of Defense and Military compliance with all applicable federal laws, treaties, and executive orders relating to government-to-government relationships with Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations, and Native Hawaiian Organizations. He also managed the Native American Lands and Environmental Mitigation Program, which is a DoD environmental cleanup program to specifically address military environmental impacts on Tribal land.
As a Federal appointee, on two separate occasions, Joe saved tribal access to DoD business programs and saved the Department of Defense from litigation by tribal governments claiming lack of formal government-to-government consultation and notice when the DoD changed internal policy interpretations that would have denied tribes access to DoD business programs and government contracting opportunities. This work earned Joe recognition as the 2016 National Indian Country Advocate of the Year by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.
Joe also worked as a Subject Matter Expert to the National Congress of American Indians, a government and legislative affairs advocate for the Navajo Nation Washington DC office, and as the staff attorney and clerk of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court. He has nationally advocated for tribes in the areas of transportation, environment and natural resources, human rights, sacred sites and places, government contracting, taxation and finance, economic development, gaming, energy, and tribal youth programming.
Joe has a rich cultural heritage; his paternal grandparents were first-generation Americans; his maternal grandfather was mixed Native & Scottish; his maternal grandmother’s family were British and Lakota/Nakota from a small Tribal Reserve in Canada; his younger cousins are enrolled members of the Coyote Valley Pomo; his nieces are enrolled White Mountain Apache and his wife and children are enrolled members of the Navajo Nation.
Joe currently lives among the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world in Flagstaff AZ, along with his wife, renowned Navajo CEO and political strategist Clara Lee Pratte, and their two children Joseph and Jack. Joe is proud to be raising his children in their ancestral homeland, in the shadow of one of the Navajo people’s 4 sacred mountains. Joe’s passions outside of work include fitness, reading and writing, and the arts. He has regularly volunteered for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and recently was recently a board member of the Flagstaff YMCA. He has also trained as a Strong Man, has run a 100-mile ultramarathon, is a retired competition pow wow dancer, and played Division 1 college football on full scholarship for Boise State University and Sacramento State University.
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, J.D., Indian Legal Program Certification
Arizona State University, M.S., Justice & Social Inquiry with a Concentration in Native American Justice
Sacramento State University, B.S., International Business & Political Science
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Tribal Advocate of the Year, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development