Tribute to Thomas Jochum

It is with great sadness that the Tribe has been informed of the passing of Thomas Jochum. Tom had been the tribe’s lobbyist in Des Moines for 20 years. He was a friend to many tribal members and a fierce ally of the tribe.

Over the years he helped the tribe shepherd many important pieces of legislation through the Capitol which eventually become law. Some of the many state laws Tom worked on included legislation requiring state courts to honor tribal court orders, changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act and allowing state agencies and local municipalizes to legally enter into agreements with the tribe. One of his major accomplishments was securing the passage of a state law calling on Congress to repeal a federal statute which had granted the state criminal jurisdiction over various crimes committed on the Settlement. Through Tom’s hard work, devotion and outright dedication the tribe was able to restore another part of its sovereignty that had been taken away by the federal government. When the tribe ever had an issue with the State of Iowa, Tom was the man to go to. He knew everybody and everybody knew him.

Tom was originally from Dubuque and was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1975 where he served for 18 years. He went on to become the Executive Director of ARC and continued the fight in protecting the rights of Iowans with disabilities. Later he started his own consulting firm and became affiliated with the tribe.

Tom was a warrior. Tom fought hard for the tribe over the years but in the end he lost his battle with cancer on November 9, 2020 at the age of 68. Tom is survived by his wife Amy, four children and his “best friend” dog, Buster. He was proceeded in death by his beloved daughter Sarah.

Funeral Services will be held 10:30 on Friday, November 13 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in des Moines. Masks are requested and seating is limited due to distancing requirements. The service can be live streamed beginning at 10:15 from

In lieu of flowers Tom has requested that donations be made to Camp Sunnyside, Holy Trinity Church or the Democratic Party of Iowa.