Ten tribal governments were honored on Oct. 21 by Harvard’s Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations (Honoring Nations) awards program. Five of the governments received a “High Honors” award of $20,000 and five others received an “Honors” award of $10,000 in recognition of their good governance achievements. Hundreds of guests attended the seventh annual event held in conjunction with the 65th Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians in Phoenix, AZ.
Based at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Honoring Nations is administered by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, which strives to understand the conditions under which self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations. Honoring Nations is funded by the Ford Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and private donors.
The five “High Honors” and five “Honors” recipients were selected from a pool of 110 applications representing more than 60 tribes. At each stage of the selection process applications are judged on effectiveness, significance to sovereignty, cultural relevance, transferability, and sustainability. In addition to the awards ceremony, the Harvard Project prepares reports, case studies, and instructional materials based on the honorees’ successes.
“Our destiny is in our hands,” said Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Indian Nation and chairman of the Honoring Nations Board of Governors. “Being capable of directing our own future, defending the futures of our children and the futures of our nations, is profoundly important. Honoring Nations understands this — and is a very, very positive program in Indian Country.” The Honoring Nations program identifies, celebrates, and shares exemplary tribal governance programs among more than 560 Indian nations in the United States.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than a quarter of the tribes in the United States have applied for an award, and 102 initiatives have been honored.
“Tribes are solving complex governmental issues in meaningful ways,” said program Director Amy Besaw Medford. “Their work is inspiring, and each hold examples for other governments to learn from.”