Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals director passes away

Calbert Seciwa

Calbert Seciwa

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Calbert Seciwa, director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) at Northern Arizona University, passed away at home in Zuni on Monday after a lengthy illness. Seciwa was raised in Zuni and was a member of the Badger Clan and child of the Eagle Clan. He maintained close ties with his Zuni cultural and spiritual heritage.

Among his many accomplishments, he served as the director of the American Indian Institute at Arizona State University from 1989 to 2007. The Institute was dedicated to recruiting and retaining Native American students at ASU. Seciwa's efforts, in part, resulted in an increase of Native American students from less than 200 to more than 1,300. He also played an instrumental role in the formation of Arizona Tri-Universities for Indian Education (ATUIE).

As a tribal member, he helped spearhead an initiative that eventually stopped the construction of a proposed coal mine that would have negatively impacted the sacred Zuni Salt Lake.

As director of ITEP, Seciwa helped to forge new programs to provide direct assistance and services to tribes across the country to address environmental protection and management issues.

ITEP Associate Director Mehrdad Khatibi stated, "Cal was wonderful to work with and was a great advocate for tribal sovereignty, empowering youth [and] the next generation through education, and sacred site protection.  He'll be missed dearly by all of us at ITEP and many other people whom he met and worked with throughout Indian Country."

Before his career with ASU and NAU, Seciwa served in various settings as a teacher and school administrator, tribal administrator and co-coordinator of intertribal efforts on issues such as cultural preservation, NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act), Indian economic-enterprise programs and infrastructure development.

Seciwa is survived by his wife Margie; daughters Chelsa and Collyn; and five grandchildren. He is also survived by a number of relatives in Zuni. He will be missed by everyone that knew and worked with him at ITEP and ASU and will be remembered for his kindness, humility and sense of humor.

A traditional wake was held in Zuni last Wednesday night with burial the following morning.

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