Campus & Community

Bailey brings unity out of diversity

3 min read
Adam Bailey received the Director’s Award from the Harvard Foundation. (Staff photo by Rose Lincoln)

After he receives his diploma on June 7, Adam Bailey will head to Washington, D.C., to work as a legislative assistant with the National Congress of American Indians, which represents 560 different Native American tribes across the nation.

“Each tribe has different concerns and different needs, and sometimes they come into conflict. The NCAI tries to bring a single voice into the policy arena,” Bailey said.

It takes a special sort of person to bring unity out of diversity, and, as a Harvard undergraduate, Bailey has already demonstrated that he has what it takes. In recognition of his work and talents he has received the Director’s Award from the Harvard Foundation, given each year to a senior who has done the most to enhance intercultural and race relations in the Harvard Community.

“Adam has helped tremendously with programs that enlighten us about the Native American community, its cultures, its peoples, its interests and aspirations. He has also helped students of all backgrounds put on their own programs, and we are grateful to him for that,” said Harvard Foundation Director Allen Counter.

Bailey joined the Harvard Foundation as a freshman, when he was chosen by fellow Native American students to serve as their representative on the Foundation’s student advisory committee. There are between 30 and 40 Native American undergraduates at Harvard, Bailey said.

“The Native American community at Harvard is very tight-knit and strong although it’s small. There’s a lot of dialogue and discussion. We talk to each other all the time.”

Bailey, who grew up in the Northern California town of Alturas, is a member of the Choctaw Nation through his mother, who was born in Oklahoma. He maintains close ties with the Choctaw side of his family and has gone back to Oklahoma many times for extended visits.

“It’s like you never really went away, although there are always lots of things to catch up on.”

As a member of the Harvard Foundation, Bailey has served as a liaison to Native American students at Harvard. He has also helped organize numerous events, including Cultural Rhythms, the Harvard Powwow, student panels dealing with race relations and hate crimes, and the 1999 visit by justices of the Navajo Supreme Court who staged a mock trial at Harvard Law School.

“The focus was on the differences between Native American systems of justice and the American court system. In the Native American systems there’s much more emphasis on peacemaking and conflict resolution and less on punishment,” Bailey said.

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