Born in Mount Edgecumbe, AK, Joe was raised as a commercial fisherman in Yakutat. He is a member of the Teikweidí (Brown Bear) clan, eagle moiety of the Yakutat Tlingit tribe. After graduating Yakutat High School, Joe attended college in Southern California. He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from UCLA in 1996 and earned his Master of Arts in American Indian Studies in 1998. In 2001, he received a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School. Currently, Joe is the Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management at the University of Alaska Southeast.