Indian Country Impact at the TenWest Festival

11/26/19 02:35:am

The TenWest Impact Festival was a week-long conference, October 11-20, 2019, that included many local perspectives that showcase and solve economic, social, cultural, and environmental challenges facing our communities. TenWest provided NNI a special opportunity to connect with the broader Tucson community and share some of our work. NNI was able to take part in four events during the week.

The first event, Meeting the Need for Higher Education & Professional Development in Indian Country, was an opportunity to highlight NNI’s Indigenous Governance Program (IGP) and explain how 30 years of Native Nation Building work has been developed into a cutting-edge, research-based curriculum that has drawn interest from Indigenous people the world over. The panel session gave a thorough history of IGP, the challenges faced, and how this program plays a critical role in the University’s Strategic Plan and in meeting the needs of the Indigenous decision-makers. Panelists included Tory Fodder (Taos Pueblo), Manager of the Indigenous Governance Program (IGP), Robert A. Williams, Jr. (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Regents Professor, the E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Chair of the University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program (IPLP), and Joan Timeche (Hopi), Executive Director of NNI. Each addressed the lack of options for students seeking a graduate degree in Indigenous Governance.Due to the level of experience and expertise of the faculty at NNI and IPLP, the two programs offer both non-credit and for-credit courses, such as the new Master of Professional Studies in Indigenous Governance.

Watch a video of this panel>

The second event, Navigating the Structures of Native Nations, looked at how every Indigenous nation has its own unique governing system with particular institutions, laws, and protocols in place that align with each nation’s culture and history. Herminia “Minnie” Frias (Pascua Yaqui), Councilwoman and former Chairwoman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Austin Nuñez (Tohono O’odham) Chairman of the San Xavier District for the Tohono O'odham Nation, and Joan Timeche shared their insight and stories about their nation’s government and helped to dispel some commonly held stereotypes about Native nations. Councilwoman Frias and Chairman Nunez addressed how each of their border nations are involved with and confronting the current borderland issues.

Watch a video of this panel>

In the third event, TenWest organized its first Youth Summit, Future Workforce Now, for high school students from greater Tucson. In the session hosted by NNI, Joan Timeche and other NNI staff helped students understand what it means to be an entrepreneur by highlighting innovative Native businesses. Students engaged in a groupwork activity called The Invention Convention™, where they invented products and businesses needed in their community. This event challenged students to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit in their future career and education pursuits.

The fourth event, Diversity in Entrepreneurship panel heard from a diverse array of professionals who strive to create a level playing field for women and minority owned companies. Joan Timeche provided her perspective on economic and business development in Indian Country alongside other innovators in the tech field, social media, digital communication, and transformative education.

Image: Joan Timeche, Austin Nuñez, and Minnie Frias

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