On November 13, 2017 Mr. Sampsel passed away at his home in Ocean Shores, Washington. Roy worked for over five decades with Tribes, First Nations, Alaska Native communities, and many federal and state government representative in the fish and wildlife, environmental, water resources, cultural, economic development, and intergovernmental sectors. He worked tirelessly to build capacity, advocate and protect important policies, and leverage much needed resources to tribal communities across Indian Country, most prominently in the Pacific Northwest, Columbia River Basin and the Yukon River Watershed.
Many who work in the tribal, environmental, water resources, and intergovernmental arenas, knew “Roy” on a first-name basis and considered him a dear friend. They know how most working relationships with Roy began with a phone call followed up by either a breakfast or lunch meeting –or in many cases, a series of breakfast or lunch meetings — where Roy would impart upon his guest his vast expertise of history, issues, dates, times, and people. In addition to feeling more knowledgeable at the end of these sessions, many of us were also able to better map our own pathways forward – be it on behalf of a personal goal, a policy outcome, a resource initiative, or an event. In the wake of his networking, ideas were catapulted into action, invaluable partnerships were forged, and connections among people to resources were formed or reaffirmed.
Roy’s contributions to Indian Country, and the Pacific Northwest were vast. He served in a wide range of leadership positions –as a political appointee, as an academic, as a policy advisor, and perhaps most important of all, as a mentor. Roy was professional, courteous, and highly respected, endearing himself to countless people in many ways. The work he accomplished in more than five decades of tribal relations is remarkable and can always be tied back to his positive attitude and respect for so many people.
Here are some of Roy’s many professional accomplishments, a few in a long list of work in Indian Country.
- 1971-1976, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Interior for the Pacific Northwest Region
- 1977-1979, first Executive Director, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
- 1981 – 1983, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
- 1983 – 2003, founding Board Member for the Institute of Tribal Government
- 2003 – 2014, Executive Director, Institute of Tribal Government and the Tribal Leadership Forum
- 1990s-2000s, He advised on Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority’s “Integrated System Plan” for salmon recovery, that led to the Pacific Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s (Council) “Sub-basin Plans” for recovery which in turn influenced National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s strategy for locally produced recovery plans;
- In the last 1990’s, Roy facilitated the Power Council’s “Multi-species Framework;”
- 2000-2008, Roy worked behind the scenes to help bring about the 2008 Fish Accord agreements between three lower river tribes and the federal agencies.
- 2014, Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Awardee Winner
- 2014-2017, President, Institute of Tribal Government Policy Board
Roy’s work and leadership at PSU’s Institute for Tribal Government touched the lives of many elected and appointed tribal leaders across the country, along with many federal and state elected and appointed leaders. The Institute of Tribal Government, which he headed for nearly a decade, has served as a resource for promoting and building tribal governance capacity, and has operated since 2001 as a self-sustaining unit within PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and the Center for Public Service. Under Roy’s leadership the Institute for Tribal Government served as a program incubator to the tribal climate change summit, tribal first foods work, tribal energy and economic development, and most recently the first intertribal water summit. In 2016, Roy’s leadership was a catalyst in helping launch the Institute’s Certificate in Tribal Relations.
In the decades of Roy’s work, he rarely stopped to look back at the wake of his endeavors; he was, perhaps more than anything else, a forward-looking man. Roy busied himself daily with keeping people connected, ideas flowing, keeping tasks on track, and projects moving toward completion. Roy was the man that helped so many of his colleagues keep our eyes on the prize, and helped us maintain strategic direction in our efforts. Roy touched so many lives, especially those of us tribal, First Nations, and Alaskan Natives who have taken on energy, fish and wildlife, environmental, water resources, and intergovernmental affairs as our careers.
We will miss him, especially his phone calls checking in on us, greeting us with a robust and warm “Hello my friend! Things in your world, I trust, are going great?” May Roy have a blessed journey.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made by clicking the donate button below or by mail to the PSU Foundation, P.O.Box 243, Portland Oregon 97207-0243.
–Direlle Calica, Director, PSU’s Institute for Tribal Government