Native leadership symposium set for Feb. 21

Representatives of six Native communities will participate in a Feb. 21 symposium designed to foster dialogue about challenges and goals for Indian country leaders.

The UNC-Chapel Hill event, “Discussions on Self-Governance, Sovereignty and Sustaining Vibrant Communities,” will be held in Alumni Hall I of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. The daylong event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. and includes lunch, is free to the public; registration is required by Feb. 18 (please RSVP to Chelsea Kolander).

“This will be a fantastic opportunity for students and community members to hear these leaders’ perspectives on contemporary issues, and to discuss current challenges and perspectives for American Indian peoples,” said Amy Locklear Hertel, director of the American Indian Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jeff Corntassel, associate professor in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria (Canada), will give the keynote address at 10 a.m. He is the co-author of “Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood” (University of Oklahoma Press) and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Kerry Bird, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and Lumbee Indian tribes, will serve as the event moderator. He coordinates the Teen Tobacco Use Prevention Program of the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs.

The first panel discussion, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, will focus on the issues of self-governance and sovereignty. The panelists will be:

  • Jeff Corntassel
  • Bill Harris, chief of the Catawba Indian Nation. Harris has represented the tribe in many capacities, including the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. Board of Directors and the South Carolina Native American Advisory Committee.
  • Karenne Wood, director of the Virginia Indian Heritage Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and lecturer at the University of Virginia. Wood serves as a Monacan Tribal Council member.

After lunch, the second panel discussion will focus on sustaining vibrant communities. The panelists will be:

  • Ronny A. Bell, director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity and professor within the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Bell is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Indian tribe.
  • Karla Martin, assistant professor of educational administration and foundations at Illinois State University. She is a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
  • Julie Reed, assistant professor of American Indian history at University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Reed is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The event will conclude at 3 p.m.

First Nations Graduate Circle, an organization of American Indian graduate and professional students at UNC-Chapel Hill, is coordinating the symposium. Other UNC-Chapel Hill event sponsors include LEARN NC, The Graduate School, the Native American Law Students Association, the Carolina Indian Circle, American Indian Studies and the American Indian Center.

Read more about the event.

Published February 13, 2013.