Joe James, Chairman, Yurok Tribe

Joe James, Chairman
Yurok Tribe

Redwood Hotel Casino – Klamath, CA

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: The Yurok Tribe is in the middle of a major growth period, which is both challenging and rewarding. We are developing multiple businesses in environmental restoration, commercial construction and telecommunications.

Right now, we are planning a $61 million project to install 62 miles of middle mile fiber optic cable in an area with consistently unreliable internet services. Funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the project will bring broadband to nearly 1,000 homes, 110 businesses and 18 anchor institutions. Many of the homes and businesses will gain first-time access to high-speed internet. The project will also create approximately 200 new jobs for local people. In addition to creating jobs, the tribe will be training a dozen Yurok citizens in the installation, maintenance and operation of broadband equipment. The training will increase the sustainability of Yurok Connect, a Yurok-operated wireless internet service provider.

This year, the tribe also launched a tribal 8(a) contracting company called Prey-go-neesh Construction. The corporation received contracts for multiple projects in California and across the U.S. Even though we recently started the 8(a) firm, the tribe has much construction experience, which has helped us secure project contracts.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: We go to great lengths to hire, train and promote Yurok citizens. As a result, our facilities are staffed by dedicated, highly trained and well-paid individuals who care deeply about their work. Their professional pride extends throughout our workforce. Our employees are our greatest asset, and every member of our team embodies strong leadership. Patrons of tribally owned businesses, such as Redwood Yurok Canoe Tours, Mad River Brewing Company and all other Yurok-owned businesses, can expect to encounter professionalism in every interaction.  

FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: I look forward to seeing the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, the lifeline of the Yurok people. For more than two decades, the tribe has fought to remove the dams and restore the river for our salmon. The first dam will be deconstructed this year. The remaining three will be decommissioned in 2024. The Yurok Fisheries Department and Yurok Tribe Construction Corporation will be intimately involved in the restoration of the river after the dams come out. It fills my heart to see my people bringing the river back to life. The Fisheries Department and Construction Corporation are also working on large-scale environmental revitalization projects on the Sacramento River, Trinity River and Redwood Creek. With more than 50 biologists, engineers and other subject-matter experts, the multidisciplinary Yurok Fisheries Department and Yurok Construction Corporation are known for building some of the best salmon habitats on the West Coast. The healing of the natural world is an integral part of our culture and our contemporary economy.