Native Leadership Symposium to focus on how modern Indian Nations work

Four American Indian tribal leaders will share their perspectives on “Transformative Leadership: Sovereignty in Action” on March 6 at the 2014 UNC Native Leadership Symposium at UNC’s George Watts Hill Alumni Center.

Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan, will give the keynote address at 11 a.m. After a short break, a panel discussion will be held from 1:20 p.m. to 3 p.m. with Ettawageshik and other Native leaders. Both events will be held in the alumni center’s Alumni Hall I.

First Nations Graduate Circle (FNGC), an organization of American Indian graduate and professional students at UNC, is coordinating the symposium. The Graduate School is the event co-sponsor. FNGC co-president Marvin Richardson is a doctoral student in history, and co-president Stanley Thayne is a doctoral student in religious studies.

Richardson and Thayne described the symposium as a great opportunity to see firsthand how modern Indian Nations work. The symposium will foster dialogue about current challenges and goals for Native communities and will give tribal leaders the opportunity to discuss issues and develop relationships with other local leaders, they added.

Ettawageshik, the keynote speaker, has served as chair of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians for 13 years. He grew up in Harbor Springs, on Little Traverse Bay (northern Lower Michigan), in the Odawa homeland of Waganakising (the Crooked Tree).

The panel discussion will focus on each leader discussing his or her perspective on issues currently facing Indian Country. Those attending will have the opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Richardson, a citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Nation, will serve as the panel discussion moderator.

The panelists will be:

  • Frank Ettawageshik
  • Ruth Revels, chair of the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs. An enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, Revels has served as a member of the commission since 2003. Her substantial experience with American Indian issues includes her work as chair of the commission’s Economic Development and Employment Committee and N.C. Indian Economic Development Initiative, and her service as the first executive director of the Guilford Native American Association in Greensboro.
  • Earl Evans, a member of the Tribal Council of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of North Carolina. Born and raised in the Haliwa-Saponi community, Evans has more than 20 years of formal involvement in issues facing American Indian tribal governments. In addition, Evans has helped create several local Native youth organizations, two national organizations and the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School. He also has assisted with economic development projects across the country.
  • Wayne Brown, principal chief of the Meherrin Nation, which is located in small communities near Ahoskie, in the northeastern part of the state near the North Carolina and Virginia border. Brown re-organized the Meherrin Nation in 1975 and became the first chief under the newly formed government since the 1800s. He was re-elected as principal chief again in 2012. He has taught history and geography and retired in July 2007 from the Virginia Department of Corrections as the administrative assistant to the chief warden.

“This symposium offers a unique opportunity for everyone on campus to learn more about Indian Nations,” said Sandra Hoeflich, associate dean for interdisciplinary education, fellowships and communication at The Graduate School. “Our graduate students are initiating important conversations among UNC students, faculty, staff and community friends that will benefit us all.”

By Deb Saine, UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School.

March 3, 2014.