Calbert Seciwa, director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

obituary Cal

Calbert Seciwa, director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, died July 13, 2009, in Zuni, N.M., following a long illness.

Mr. Seciwa was raised in the Zuni area and spent much of his youth involved in his family’s farming, ranching and sheep-herding activities. He was a member of Zuni’s Badger clan, born for the Eagle clan, and maintained close ties with his Zuni cultural and spiritual heritage. In 2006 he and his family sponsored a Shalako home, contributing to the tribe’s most important religious ceremony, which requires a great deal of time, care and preparation.

Mr. Seciwa came to ITEP and Northern Arizona University in 2007 after more than 15 years at Arizona State University, where he served as director of the American Indian Institute, an organization whose mission is to recruit and retain Native students at ASU. As ITEP’s director he helped to forge new programs to provide direct assistance and services to tribes across the country to address environmental protection and management issues.

“He will be missed by all of us who knew and worked with him at ITEP and NAU,” said Mehrdad Khatibi, ITEP interim director. “We will remember him for his kindness, humility and sense of humor.”

Before his career with ASU and NAU, Mr. Seciwa served in various settings as a teacher and school administrator, tribal administrator and co-coordinator of intertribal efforts on issues such as cultural preservation, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, infrastructure development and Indian economic-enterprise programs.

Mr. Seciwa is survived by his wife, Margie Seciwa; daughters Chelsa and Collyn; and five grandchildren who live in Tempe. He also is survived by many relatives in Zuni.

Traditional ceremonies will be held starting this evening, July 15, at Zuni. To make donations to the family, contact Khatibi at (928) 523-0946 or e-mail