Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission: Who Is Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On July 22, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri to be chairman of the three-member National Indian Gaming Commission. Chaudhuri has been a member of the commission since September 2013 and its acting chairman since October.


Chaudhuri is from Tempe, Arizona. His father, Joyotpaul Chaudhuri, who was born in India, was a college professor, and his late mother, Jean, was from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Jean, whose first two languages were Creek and Cherokee, spent her career working for Native American civil rights. Jean and Joy collaborated on a book, A Sacred Path: The Way of the Muscogee Creeks.


Chaudhuri attended Dartmouth, where he earned a B.A. in 1993. He took a few years off before going to law school at Cornell, getting his law degree in 1999. Chaudhuri then returned to Arizona to clerk for two state appellate court judges; Judge James Ackerman from 1999 to 2000 and Noel Fidel from 2000 to 2001.


After his clerkships, Chaudhuri joined the law firm of Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix as an associate. He worked on Indian law, business and finance and commercial litigation. He struck out on his own in 2006, running his law firm until 2010. It was also during this time that Chaudhuri began sitting as a judge in Native American nation courts. He was an appellate judge on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court and the San Manuel Mission Band appellate court and an associate judge for the Puyallup Tribe of Nations. Chaudhuri joined the Maricopa County (Arizona) public defender’s office in 2010 but continued to serve on Indian courts.


In 2012, Chaudhuri was named senior counselor to the assistant secretary for Indian affairs in the Department of the Interior, where he served for a year before moving to the gaming board.


Chaudhuri is the editor of The Yavapai of Fort McDowell: an Outline of their History and Culture (1995) and a contributing author of the anthology Re-creating the Circle: The Renewal of American Indian Self-Determination (2011).

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Obama Nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri Head of Gaming Commission (by Ela Dutt, News India Times)

New NIGC Acting Chair on His Work, IGRA, Bay Mills and More (by Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country News)


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