Mark Your Calendar – NNI Brings Tribal Leadership Training to Phoenix for an Emerging Leaders Seminar This Summer

June 27, 2023

The 2023 Emerging Leaders Seminar will take place at Talking Stick Resort on August 29-30. Sign up by July 24th to save $100 on your registration.

A time-lapse photo of lights streaming into Talking Stick Resort at sunset.

In response to popular demand and an enthusiastic reception for their newly refurbished and freshly tested Elected Leaders Training curriculum, the Native Nations Institute’s (NNI) Tribal and Direct Services team is thrilled to announce the 2023 Emerging Leaders Seminar.

Registration is now open for the event, which is scheduled for August 29-30, 2023 at Talking Stick Resort and Casino on the homelands of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Phoenix, Arizona.

Sign up by July 24th and save $100 on registration.

Heavy Is the Head…

The role of an elected leader is complicated. Part legal navigator and part community organizer, this work can be even more difficult for leaders of tribal nations. 

“Becoming a tribal leader in the 21st century has become a much more complicated and challenging duty for tribal council members today,” says Jamestown S’Klallam chairman Ron Allen. “Even though Tribes have become more successful in the last twenty to thirty years, finding balance for all the programs, services, and duties to represent our tribal nations requires focused dedication, commitment, and sensitivity to our communities’ countless needs,” Allen says.

Not only do tribal leaders have to work to identify plans of action for their communities and motivate often dispersed constituencies to strike when the legislative iron is hot but, in the words of Former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray, tribal leaders also “have to be able to walk in both worlds” – that is, both the tribal legal arena and the western one. “We don’t live on an island, you know,” says Gray.

Despite the array of challenges facing tribal leaders, those new to their positions are generally forced to learn everything about governance – as well as the expectations and responsibilities of someone in their role – on the fly.

Said Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors Secretary Debra Posey shortly after attending Evergreen State College’s (ESC) Elected Tribal Official Academy produced and held in partnership with NNI, “I had served on the Board for twelve years…I don’t remember ever receiving formal training.”

Training for Elected and Aspiring Tribal Leaders 

After holding seminars for tribal leaders in 2013 and 2014, the NNI team transitioned their leadership training program to a platform designed for working directly with one tribe at a time while offering open-registration educational events focused on other hot topics in Indian Country such as constitution remaking. 

In 2022, the NNI team were called upon to bring that leadership training content to ESC’s Elected Tribal Official Academy in February of this year. The positive reception for that content and its obvious utility for leaders at all stages of their careers – from community organizers and activists to tenured elected officials – quickly became clear.

“It was an eye opener,” said Posey of the experience, adding that veteran leaders are “never too old to learn” more about governance.

NNI’s curriculum was also praised as “Very beneficial information to all that we as new leaders need to learn” by one newly elected leader who attended the training and as “very powerful” by another. 

A third attendee voiced gratitude for the opportunity “to learn we are not alone. We often think we are and it is great to learn that together we can help one another (find) solutions,” the attendee said.

As a result of this overwhelmingly positive response to their leadership content, NNI decided it was time to bring that content to the general public in the form of their first open-registration Emerging Leaders Seminar in nearly a decade.

Emerging Leaders 2023

Though the details of the agenda are still being finalized, this year’s seminar features a host of high-profile tribal leaders and governance experts, including:

Topics covered will focus on issues voiced by experienced tribal leaders related to challenges they faced in their careers and their firsthand experience serving in leadership roles. Some questions that will be answered during the 12 educational sessions presented over the course of the two-day event include:

  • Why are some Native nations more successful than others? 
  • What do tribal leaders wish they knew before taking office?
  • What are the typical duties of a governing official? 
  • What are the most pressing issues you face as a tribal leader? 

Primers on federal Indian law, assessing community needs, engaging citizens and implementing sustainable policies will also be provided, among other topics crucial to the success of any elected tribal leader.

Anyone with experience or interest in serving in a leadership capacity for their Native nation are invited and encouraged to attend this unique educational and networking event.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided on both days for participants. Registration for the event closes August 15, 2023 with an early-bird discount available to those who sign up by Monday, July 24.

Learn more about the Emerging Leaders Seminar and register to attend here.