Honorable Joseph L. James
Chairman, The Yurok Tribe
Yurok Tribal Chairman Joseph L. James is from the traditional village of Sregon on the Klamath River in Northern California. Chairman James has wealth of professional experience in the following areas: natural resource management, public health, public safety, infrastructure development, cultural resources protection and environmentally sustainable business acquisition/development. Chairman James is extremely passionate about nation-building, economic diversification and job creation. He has significantly expanded the Tribe’s economic development portfolio, created hundreds of good-paying jobs and increased access to affordable high-speed internet on tribal lands through Yurok Connect, one of the few tribal internet service providers in the US. Under his leadership, the tribe has started new companies that perform large-scale river restoration, commercial and government construction and eco-tourism, including the Redwood Yurok Canoe Tours on the Klamath River. He personally developed the redwood canoe tour business from concept to launch. Visitors from across the globe have enjoyed the one-of-a-kind tour. Chairman James championed a unique partnership with California State Parks to open the Chah-pekw O’ Ket’-toh “Stone Lagoon” Visitor Center in Northern California. It is the only tribally operated visitor center within the California state park system. The Tribe has also purchased, successfully rebranded and grown multiple businesses, such as the Mad River Brewing Company. Chairman James was elected to serve as the Tribe’s Chairman in October 2018 and reelected to his second term in October 2021. Prior to becoming an elected leader, he served as the Yurok Tribe’s Transportation Manager, East District Councilmember and Yurok Economic Development Board President.