President Emeritus - Profile
Edward K. Thomas was born and raised in Craig, Alaska and is a Raven of the Tlingit tribe, Sukteeneidí (Dog Salmon) Clan. His Tlingit names are T'sa Xoo and Shaans Kadake and his Haida name is Skil' Quidaunce.
He received a high school diploma from Craig High School, Associate of Science degree from Sheldon Jackson College (1963), Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1973), and a Master of Arts degree in Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University (1977). After a traditional Southeast occupation as a seine boat crew member and skipper for 25 years, Thomas’ professional career began in the field of education working as a classroom teacher and counselor in Klawock, Craig, and Sitka (1969-1975) before becoming the Director of Indian Education for the Ketchikan School District (1975-1984). He also served on UAS’ Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program advisory board.
Mr. Thomas served as President of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) for 27 years. He was first elected as President in 1984 and served in this position until retiring in 2007. In 2008, he was elected as Central Council's President Emeritus, a position he held until coming out of retirement in 2010 and being re-elected as President. In 2014, President Thomas officially retired and resumed the position of President Emeritus.
As President, Mr. Thomas was responsible for the overall administration of all operations of the Tribe. Under his leadership, Central Council was the first tribal government in Alaska to enter into a self-governance compact with the federal government which played a foundational role in establishing legally binding compacts between Alaska Native tribes and the federal government.
President Thomas currently serves as board member on the Sealaska Board of Directors (since 1993), board member of the Office of the Special Trustee for Indian Affairs - Department of the Interior, Juneau Area Representative for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Fair-Shares Task Force, member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) Camp 2, council member of the Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council.
Thomas skillfully carried out multiple leadership positions within Alaska Native organizations on regional, statewide, and national levels. On a statewide level, he has been a member of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), serving as keynote speaker during AFN’s annual convention in 1995 and Chair of AFN’s Convention, Human Resources, and Tribal Relations committees. On a national level, he has performed services for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) as Secretary, Alaska Area Vice President, and board member. In collaboration with official federal organizations, Thomas has been a board member of the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee for Indian Affairs and the Juneau Alaska Area Representative on the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Fair-Shares and Reorganization Task Forces.
Some of Thomas’ other membership, representation, and voluntary leadership positions include: Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) Camp #2, ANB Camp #4 President, Grand Camp 1st Vice President, Shaan Seet, Inc. Board of Directors, Juneau Tlingit & Haida Community Council member, charter member of the Indian Management Association, and Executive Director of Ketchikan Indian Corporation.
Thomas currently serves as Central Council’s President Emeritus and Parliamentarian. He is also a member on Sealaska Corporation’s Board of Directors (since 1993), Chair of Sealaska Timber Corporation, and Director of Managed Business Solutions, LLC and Haa Aaní, LLC.