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National Indian Gaming Commissioners and the UF Interns at the NIGC Headquarters
Since the creation of the Udall Foundation’s Native American Congressional Internship program in 1996, 267 Native American and Alaska Native Students from 120 tribes have participated in the program. As participants, the students gain on-the-ground experience with the federal legislative process and witness and engage in government-to-government relationships between Native Nations and the United States federal government. The following criteria assists in choosing the interns: interest in how the federal government works; leadership in and commitment to tribal nations; awareness of relevant issues and challenges facing Indian Country; and demonstrated strength as mature learners that thrive in diverse and inclusive environments.
This year, eleven students representing eight Nations and eleven universities participated in the 2018 Udall Foundation Internship. They spent nine weeks on the George Washington University campus, and in that time, experienced what it is like to cast their lines into the fabric of federal policymaking. The students interned in Congressional offices and federal agencies in Washington, D.C. Terance Fields (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma), a student at University of Central Oklahoma, interned at the Office of Representative Don Young. NNI caught up with him after the close of the internship. For Terance, the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and contribute to indigenous governance in D.C. is what motivated him to apply for the internship. He shared that he “got a chance to see a lot of the wonderful Native organizations that are constantly fighting to keep the Native voice strong in D.C., and they are doing a great job.” Perhaps one of the most meaningful interactions took place during an enrichment activity with the Native Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). The opportunity to talk with NIGA allowed Terance to gain a more in-depth look at tribal gaming beyond his reservation. He is now considering applying to law school so that he can return to his tribe and run the gaming commission.
NNI, a co-funder and co-sponsor of the Native American Congressional Internship, hosted one of the enrichment activities interwoven into the summer experience. During their day with NNI staff members, students envisioned the futures of their individual nations and Indian Country as a whole. Where did they see success happening, what did it look like, what shape did it take? This was a time for the interns to come together and take their place as Turtle Island’s next leaders.
UF Native American Congressional Internship 2018, Washington, D.C. June-July 2018.
Photo album featuring: Perry Riggs, Navajo Nation Deputy Executive Director; Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Tom Udall; Representative Tom Cole (Chickasaw); National Indian Gaming Commissioners; Eric Eberhard, Chair of the UF Board; Congressional Candidate Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo); Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation Vice President; Amber Crotty, Navajo Nation Council Delegate, and the UF Interns
Photo credits: UF Congressional Interns 2018