Nation building with Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Interns

07/18/16 01:00:am

“Washington, DC is at the hub of Indian Law and policy; the Udall Internship gave me an incredible network of young Indian professionals.”
-- Jordan Thompson, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, quoted on

On June 3, 2016, NNI executive director Joan Timeche and outreach specialist/senior researcher Danielle Hiraldo were in Washington, DC to provide a daylong program on Native nation rebuilding to the Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Interns. These emerging Indigenous leaders—who are either current university students or recent graduates—bring expertise in law, public administration, natural resources, anthropology, and other disciplines to their summer jobs on Capitol Hill. In turn, the interns gain valuable new network connections, experience working with Congress and various executive agencies, and a better understanding of the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the US federal government.

The Native Nation Rebuilding seminar was designed to provide the Congressional Interns an overview on NNI’s and the Harvard Project’s research findings on why some Native nations are successful, and how that information can be useful in their positions with the national decision-makers who make policy decisions that impact Native nations. NNI’s staff combined lectures, multi-media presentations, group discussions, and interactive decision-making exercises to provide interns with practical knowledge about the task of strengthening Indigenous governance. Specific activities included a debrief of NNI’s distance learning module Rebuilding Native Nations – An Introduction, videos featuring first-hand accounts by Indigenous leaders confronting governance challenges, and a role-play of tribal council members wrestling with challenging decisions.

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