4,186 Miles and Counting

The Native Governance Center is entering the fall season with no sign of the tempo easing. Our infrastructure continues to take shape. Rebecca Stratton and Lauren Kramer joined the team adding incredible talent to support to the nation building cause. NGC’s board is engaging us in strategic planning. We held a successful launch event in August drawing representatives from 20 of the 23 tribes in the region. A partnership agreement was finalized with the Native Nations Institute so they will continue delivering nation building services in the region. And, we recently announced the selection of 25 remarkable individuals to make up the 8th Cohort of the Native Nations Rebuilders Program. Read the press release announcing Cohort 8.

One of the summer highlights was Wayne’s 4,186-mile road trip to introduce himself and NGC to the tribal leaders in the region. Many of you monitored his travels through the pictures posted on NGC’s Facebook page. I joined him during a couple segments of the trip where we connected with elected leaders, Rebuilders and allies. At milepost 2,786, heading through Red Lake, Wayne and I had lunch with Cohort 1 Rebuilder Sam Strong and Bush Foundation Fellow Floyd “Buck” Jourdain.

Photo of Sam Strong and Buck Jourdain

Sam was updating us on Red Lake Nation’s development activity to serve the Nation’s citizens. Buck was sharing insight to his project as a Bush Fellow. As Buck drew our attention to the power of the drum in native societies, almost simultaneously, Wayne and I were struck by the analogy of the drum to our work.

Any time we hear the drum we stop, listen for the source, and are drawn to it. Like Sam and Buck, our elected leaders, citizens, communities – whether individually or collectively – are responding to the sound of a drum. They want to celebrate, heal, protect what needs protecting, change what needs changing, and provide for the wellbeing and future of their Native nations.

At NGC we are not the source of the beat of the drum but we are drawn to it. We want to be a place for the responders to help expand understanding, exchange knowledge, make connections, and clarify strategies as they work towards the outcomes that matter to their nations.

The best answers to any issue tribes face are those that come from within. NGC doesn’t provide the agenda, we don’t point the way, we don’t tell anyone what to do. Our approach mirrors the sovereignty and self-determination that tribes possess and you find it in our mission statement that “assists Tribal Nations in strengthening their governance systems and their capacities to exercise their sovereignty.”

We might get lost in our nation building jargon from time to time. That is why it is so refreshing to be on the road meeting with leaders like Sam Strong and Buck Jourdain. We look forward to being a partner as you remind us to think of our work in ways that matters most to our heart.

Jaime A. Pinkham (Nez Perce)

Senior Advisor

October 17, 2016