Chair: E. Mercedes Krause

E. Mercedes Krause (She/Her) was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and is a Tribal citizen of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation. She is a nationally-recognized teacher who has worked extensively in the international community, as well as Tribal communities. Mercedes currently serves as the Chair for the Nevada Native Caucus. Mercedes also serves on the Las Vegas Indian Center’s Board, Clark County Democrats Board, Battle Born Progress Board, and as Vice-Chair of the Native American Alumni Club at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Additionally, she currently is obtaining a second Master’s degree in Native American Studies at Montana State University. She is a 2019 Emerge Alumni and serves on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee with the Nevada Department of Education and as a Commissioner on the Nevada Minority Affairs Commission as the Housing Committee Co-chair and Education Committee Chair.

Vice-Chair: Ryan (Cal) Boone

Ryan Boone (He/Him) is the former President of the UNLV Native American Student Association (NASA) and co-founder of the Nevada Native Higher Education Council (NNHEC). Both organizations exist to support Native youth in their transition to higher education as well as their continued enrollment through graduation. He is from the Agai-Dicutta Numu (Trout Eater People) of the Northern Paiute Nation. As a student, he is majoring in Computational Physics with a minor in American Indian & Indigenous Studies. Along with his academics, he also has served as one of the Program Assistants for Native Programs at the Student Diversity & Social Justice office at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Boone has focused much of his time into furthering the advancement of Native student education within the state of Nevada. It is his overall hope that the work he does will elicit positive change for future generations to come.

Secretary: Shea Backus

Shea Backus is a citizen of Cherokee Nation. She is the first female enrolled tribal member to have served in the Nevada State Legislature and is a charter member of the Clark County Native American Caucus.  Shea is a civil and commercial litigator who has been permitted to practice before three of Nevada’s tribal courts. She earned a J.D. with a certificate in Indian Law from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and had the opportunity to clerk in the Department of Justice Office of Tribal Justice while she was in law school.  Shea looks forward to continuing to organize other Native Americans who are native to Nevada as well as those who now call Nevada home to have an impact on politics and policy in our state.

Treasurer: Natalie O’Neal

Natalie O’Neal is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux tribes (Nakoda) of Montana.  She played college basketball and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and went on to obtain a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2006.  She is a Board-certified geriatric specialist and has dedicated her career to promoting health and wellness with minority and underserved clients. She is a national speaker for youth outreach, elder care, and disease prevention and health promotion with American Indians & Alaskan Natives.  She currently serves as the treasurer for the NV Native Caucus with a passion for healthcare reform and improved education access for the Native Americans.  She has two children with her husband and college sweetheart Charles O’Neal. She has participated in powwow dancing her entire life and also coaches youth sports of basketball and volleyball. 

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