NPTEC Candidate – Seat 2: Samuel Penney


Penney’s parents are Ira D. Penney and Josephine A. (Joann) Samuels, maternal grandparents are Joe and Pauline (Corbett) Samuels, and paternal grandparents are David Penney and Mary Miller. Penney is married to his wife Loretta, and they have three children and five grandchildren.


On May 17, 2003, the University of Idaho conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Doctor of Administrative Science to Penney for helping improve tribal-local relationships. 


Samuel N. Penney is currently a member of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC) which is the governing body of the Nez Perce Tribe.  Penney is serving his tenth three-year term on NPTEC. Penney served fifteen years as Chairman of NPTEC and four years as Vice-Chairman.  Penney has also served on several boards including the Executive Board of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Northwest Region delegate to the National Indian Gaming Association Board of Directors, and Idaho representative to Environmental Protection Agency Region 10-Tribal Operations Committee.   


Penney is a strong advocate for educational opportunities for Nez Perce tribal members.  He has served on Native American Advisory Boards to the Presidents of Washington State University, University of Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College.  Recruitment, retention, and student services were primary issues discussed at the advisory board meetings.  On May 16, 2003, Penney received the President’s Medallion from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.  He was selected for his dedication to promoting educational opportunities for Native American youth and understanding importance of higher education for everyone, both-Indian and non-Indian.  Penney serves on the Portland State University Institute for Tribal Government Policy Board.  The Policy Board provides the Institute for Tribal Government with curriculum guidance, policy direction, and establishes priorities for programs, education and training.

What you hope to bring to the NPTEC table:

Penney has fought to protect the Nez Perce Tribe’s treaty rights and natural resources. Issues ranging from air quality, water quality, land exchanges, to mega-loads.  Land, water, and air are critical to the way of life to Nez Perce tribal membership.  In 1999 the Idaho Statesman Newspaper featured Penney in an article entitled “Top 10 of the Decade, Idahoans Changing Idaho – 10 Who Make a Difference”.  He was selected because he sought to protect the rights of the state’s Indian residents and natural resources. 


Penney has defended the Nez Perce Tribe against attacks on tribal sovereignty by the North Central Idaho Jurisdictional Alliance (NCIJA).  The Harvard Executive Leadership Training educated the NCIJA about the rights of the Nez Perce Tribe and tribal membership.


Penney has provided testimony at the local, state, regional, and federal levels of government advocating on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe.  Penney has worked with Congress on federal legislation and protection of Nez Perce treaty reserved rights and resources.  In 1995 Penney helped negotiate the 1995 Class III Gaming Compact, removal of Idaho Lottery from Nez Perce reservation in 1995, and worked on statewide “Indian Gaming and Self Reliance Act” initiative to define and secure tribal gaming in Idaho.