Campus & Community

KSG honors American Indian nations

3 min read

Fourteen tribal governments were recently honored and celebrated as examples of excellence by Harvard’s Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations (Honoring Nations) awards program. Based at the Kennedy School of Government, Honoring Nations is administered by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. The project’s goal is to understand the conditions under which self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations.

These 14 governments accepted the awards in recognition of their good governance achievements relating to innovative programs and initiatives, and will receive up to $10,000 each to share their stories of success. Hundreds of guests attended the Oct. 3 ceremony held in conjunction with the 63rd annual session of the National Congress of American Indians in Sacramento, Calif.

“The world is changing quickly and in major ways. The Native nations we are honoring are teaching us all how to succeed and lay the foundation for seven generations to come,” said Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Indian Nation and chairman of the Honoring Nations Board of Governors.

Since the inception of the Honoring Nations awards program in 1998, more than one-quarter of the tribes in the United States have applied for an award, and 92 initiatives have been honored. “Tribes are solving complex governmental issues in meaningful ways. Their work is inspiring, and each holds examples for other governments to learn from,” noted Amy Besaw, director of the program.

Seven “High Honors” recipients (awarded $10,000) and seven “Honors” recipients ($2,000) were selected from a competitive pool of 86 applications representing more than 60 tribes. At each stage of the selection process applicants were evaluated on effectiveness, significance to sovereignty, cultural relevance, transferability, and sustainability. The final round of evaluations, also held in Sacramento, included public presentations followed by questions from the board of governors. Modeling ideals of good governance, the board then deliberated in a session that reflects traditional councils of many Native nations by building consensus while weighing the most pressing issues today. In addition to the awards, the Harvard Project prepares reports, case studies, and instructional materials based on the honorees’ successes.

Honoring Nations is funded by the Ford Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and private donors.

The 2006 ‘High Honors’ and ‘Honors’ award recipients are as follows:

Alternative Sentencing Program*, Tulalip Tribal Court, the Tulalip Tribes; Bad River Recycling Solid Waste Department, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Band of Chippewa; Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation*, Citizen Potawatomi Nation; Cultural Education & Revitalization Program, Makah Cultural and Research Center, Makah Nation; Homeownership: Financial, Credit & Consumer Protection Program, Umatilla Reservation Housing Authority, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; the Hopi Child Care Program, the Hopi Tribe; Hopi Education Endowment Fund*, the Hopi Tribe; Indian Child Welfare Services, Department of Indian Child Welfare Services, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians; Morongo Tutoring Program*, Social Services Department, Morongo Band of Mission Indians; *Navajo Methamphetamine Task Forces, Navajo Department of Behavioral Services, Navajo Nation; Red Lake Walleye Recovery Program*, Red Lake Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians; Task Force on Violence Against Women, National Coalition of Native Nations and Organizations Affiliated Through the National Congress of American Indians; Tribal Land Title and Records Office Housing Department*, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; and Winnebago Community Development Fund, Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

* Denotes “High Honors”