Campus & Community

KSG honors American Indian tribal governments

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In recognition of their outstanding achievements in governance, eight American Indian tribal government programs were awarded $10,000 each from the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) at a June ceremony held in Bismarck, N.D. The event was attended by hundreds of American Indians from across the country who gathered for a session of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

The awards were given as part of Harvard’s Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations (Honoring Nations) program, which identifies, celebrates, and shares exemplary tribal government programs among the more than 550 Indian nations in the United States.

“Across Indian Country, tribes are governing themselves to a brighter future,” said Andrew Lee, the program’s executive director. “It makes sense to shine a spotlight on tribal government’s best practices so that others can learn from and replicate what’s working across a spectrum of public policy concerns.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 100 tribes have applied for an award and 32 tribal government initiatives have been honored. This marks the third year of awards for Honoring Nations.

The eight “high honors” recipients:

  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission: Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, and Warm Springs tribes (Portland, Ore.).
  • Gila River Youth Council: Gila River Indian Community (Sacaton, Ariz.).
  • Iroquois National Lacrosse: Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy (Nedrow, N.Y.).
  • Umatilla Basin Salmon Recovery Project: Confederated tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Pendleton, Ore.).
  • Whirling Thunder Wellness Program: Winnebago Tribal Health Department, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (Winnebago, Neb.).
  • Ya Ne Dah Ah (Ancient Teachings) School: Education Department, Chickaloon Village Tribal Council (Chickaloon, Alaska).
  • Yakama Nation Land Enterprise: Confederated tribes and bands of the Yakama Nation (Toppenish, Wash.).
  • Zuni Eagle Sanctuary: Zuni Fish and Wildlife Department, Pueblo of Zuni (Zuni, N.M.).

The eight “high honors” were chosen from 16 finalists that were initially selected from a pool of 80 applications representing more than 60 tribes and multi-tribe collaborations. At each stage of the selection process, which is led by a national advisory board chaired by Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, applications are judged on the criteria of effectiveness, significance, transferability, creativity, and sustainability.

In addition to the awards, the Harvard Project will prepare reports, case studies, and instructional materials based on the honorees’ successes.

For more information about Honoring Nations, visit the Harvard Project Web site at or call (617) 496-9446.