NPTEC Candidate – Seat 1: Ryan Oatman

Enrollment# 3088


My name is Ryan L. Oatman and I am a proud descendent of Old Chief Looking Glass. My parents are Paula Moody (Walker) and the late Kenneth Oatman. My maternal grandparents are Ron & Lois Oatman and the late Jerry Walker. My paternal grandparents are the late James Havill and Loda Sublett (Oatman). During my younger years, I grew up and attended school in Kamiah, Idaho and eventually moved to Lapwai in 1989. I graduated from Lapwai High School with the Class of ‘95. I had the honor and privilege to be a foster parent to Elijah Blue Arquette aka Boo, whom of which has started a family of his very own. He and his wife, Jamie Arquette, are the proud parents of a three-year-old daughter named Isla Bear and one baby on the way in Spring 2024


  • A.A. Degree from Haskell Indian Nations University (2009)
  • BSW from Lewis-Clark State College (2011)
  • MSW from Boise State University (2012)

My formal education has given me the opportunity to work with many diverse groups and teams in advocating for the protection of one of our most precious resources: Nez Perce children, our future. I served on many college campus boards and committees which helped me form skills in serving with integrity and ethics. After completing college, it was always my goal to bring my education back to the Nez Perce Tribe.


I have worked for the Nez Perce Tribe for twenty plus years, honing skills, and experience in various capacities. My work history includes Fisheries, Students for Success, Headstart, the Nez Perce Tribal Enterprises, and Nimiipuu Health. For the past 11 years, I’ve worked in the Social Service Department; I served as the Interim Director for Child Protection Services in 2015 and I was the director for the IVision Program from 2016-20. I became the NMPH Patient Advocate in January 2021 and served in that position until I was elected in May 2021. While serving on NPTEC, I’ve had the privilege of serving in many capacities for the tribe as it was a goal of mine to be active in each respective field. My duties on NPTEC consisted of the following: Vice Chair for Human Resources Subcommittee & Climate Energy Subcommittees 2021-23; Chair for Human Resources & Climate Energy Subcommittees 2023-24; and I am the current NPTEC Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer for 2023-24.

What do you hope to bring to the NPTEC Table: 

I have had to the ability to stand on my own two feet while serving on NPTEC. I am a good candidate because I can provide input, solutions, and recommendations, for all subcommittees. I never shy away when it comes to expressing my professional opinion at the table and I do so with professional decorum. I draw a lot of my strengths as a leader from my upbringing in my grandparent’s home and all their teachings. I learned a lot of life lessons growing up on the reservation in both Kamiah and Lapwai communities, getting to know my people in all communities on our reservation through my different work experiences and personal experiences. Whether it was through serving food boxes for families during the pandemic or hosting teen nights for our local communities for many years, my heart has always been to serve as an active and involved member in our communities.


Climate change is something I have grown passionate about since joining this subcommittee as I know it’s affecting our Indigenous First Foods. We need to do everything possible to protect our foods. While we have the resources to continue to build, it is also essential that we think strategically to succeed in our efforts of addressing climate change. A comprehensive plan must be in place. I am also a proponent for healing within our communities. Drug & Alcohol addiction on the Nez Perce reservation affects our people, which is why I have been working with NMPH to try to create our own Inpatient Treatment Facility & Detox Center. Having worked with Nimiipuu Health, and having overcome my own struggles with addiction, I know the importance the community and culture plays in rehabilitation—they provide immense healing as they reinforce connection. Another important tribal matter that is important to me is advancing our tribal workforce and membership. This happens when we hire our own Nez Perce People to fill director positions, management positions, and all Executive Director/Officer positions. Tribal preference is in place for us to advance our membership in becoming a self-sustaining government. I am passionate about advocating on behalf of our tribal workforce.