Skip to main content
Please wait...

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Announces New Tribal Manager, Natural Resources Director, and IT Director

July 11, 2023

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Announces New Tribal Manager, Natural Resources Director, and IT Director

Ridgefield, WA – The Cowlitz Indian Tribe (Cowlitz) is pleased to announce the appointment of new leaders to three key positions within the tribe – Michael Watkins (Tribal Administrator), Dalton Fry (Director of Natural Resources), and William Saunders (Information Technology Director).

Mr. Watkins previously served as the Executive Director of Health and Human Services for Cowlitz where he oversaw the delivery of traditional, modern, and culturally sensitive medical and social service practices to tribal members. In his new role as Tribal Administrator, he will be responsible for managing the daily operations of the Tribal Government. This includes planning and directing all administrative and operational activities consistent with the Tribal Council approved budgets, policies, and procedures.

Mr. Fry previously served as the Fish Distribution and Lands Manager for Cowlitz within the Natural Resources Department. In his new role as Director of Natural Resources, he will lead the department in its work to ensure that plants, animals, and landscapes central to the Cowlitz Culture persist and thrive for future generations. This work is achieved by restoring ecoystems, maintaining lands, and providing fish and forest resources to every tribal member.

Mr. Saunders joins Cowlitz from a long career in information technology, most recently serving as the Chief Information Officer at Tactical Air Support, Inc. In his new role as IT Director for Cowlitz, he will provide vision and leadership for developing and implementing information systems and technology initiatives.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tribal Administrator Michael Watkins, Director of Natural Resources Dalton Fry and IT Director William Saunders to their new leadership positions,” said Cowlitz General Council Chairwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser. “These are critical roles for upholding the Tribe’s mission of serving our membership, preserving our aboriginal lands and our cultural teachings, and advancing shared prosperity for Cowlitz Indian Tribal members and our neighbors. With the help of their leadership, our Tribe is poised to continue reaching new heights.”  

For more information about open job listings with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, please visit


About the Cowlitz Indian Tribe

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is a growing force in community building in the Pacific Northwest. The Cowlitz Reservation neighbors Ridgefield, Washington, and is home to ilani, the Pacific Northwest's premier gaming, dining, meeting, and entertainment destination. The mission of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe is to preserve and honor the legacy of its elders and ancestors by empowering a tribal community that promotes social justice and economic well-being, secures aboriginal lands, respects culture and sovereignty, and fosters justice, freedom, and mutual welfare. More information can be found at

Media Contacts

Crystal Leigh,

Taylor Bickford,



The legacy of an ancient people in southwest Washington is rich with descendants who manage a growing portfolio of health, education, scientific research, housing, transportation, development, elder care, conservation and legal issues. The Cowlitz Tribe is a growing force in community building in what are now Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis and parts of Pierce, Skamania and Wahkiakum Counties, a vast territory occupied by numerous Cowlitz villages prior to non-Cowlitz exploration and seizure. Today, an elected Tribal Council is composed of professionals adept at managing multiple programs and projects.