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event • Conferences & Symposia

Native Peoples, Native Politics

  • Friday, April 29, 2016
  • Knafel Center
    10 Garden Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
Speaker at "Native Peoples, Native Politics"
Photo by Tony Rinaldo

Politics requires more than voting and electoral mobilization. It requires knowledge of law, organization, identity, history, and culture. This reality is very much evident in Native American life today, where Native communities are sovereign nations within the United States, yet must still negotiate politically within a federal democratic system that at times inconsistently honors their rights, their land and water, and their ways of life. 

The Radcliffe Institute, in partnership with the Harvard University Native American Program, is hosting this conference to explore a range of mechanisms for political expression with leading members of Native communities, academics, policy makers, journalists, students, artists, and writers. 

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This event at the Radcliffe Institute is part of the Initiative on Native and Indigenous Peoples.

Speaker at

Keynote Address

Introduction by Alyssa Mt. Pleasant (Tuscarora [patrilineal]), assistant professor of Native American studies, University at Buffalo; 2015–2016 Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Keynote Address by Robert Odawi Porter (Seneca Nation), senior advisor, Dentons US LLP; 67th President, Seneca Nation of Indians

Speaker at

Panel 1: Native Law and Legal Strategy


Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head [Aquinnah]), tribal councilman


Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the Department of History, Harvard University


Daniel Carpenter, faculty director of the social sciences program at the Radcliffe Institute, member of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Native and Indigenous Issues, and Allie S. Freed Professor of Government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Moderated by Maggie McKinley (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), Climenko Fellow and lecturer on law, Harvard Law School

Richard Guest, attorney, Tribal Supreme Court Project, Native American Rights Fund

Diane J. Humetewa (Hopi), United States district judge, United States District Court, District of Arizona

Sylvia McAdam speaking at

Panel 2: Native Governance and Politics

Moderated by Daniel Carpenter

Karen Diver (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), special assistant to the president for Native American affairs, White House; Former Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

John Dossett, general counsel, National Congress of American Indians

Sylvia McAdam (nêhiyaw Nations), cofounder, Idle No More

Speaker at

Panel 3: Native Politics in Literature and Art

Moderated by Shelly Lowe (Navajo), executive director, Harvard University Native American Program

Kristiana Kahakauwila (Native Hawaiian), writer; 2015–2016 Lisa Goldberg Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota), musician

Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip), photographer and creator, Project 562

Panel discussion at

Panel 4: Native Politics in Broadcast Media and Film

Moderated by Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), blogger, Native Appropriations; postdoctoral fellow in anthropology, Brown University

Irene Bedard (Inupiaq/Yupik/Cree), actor

Migizi Pensoneau (Ponca/Ojibwe), member, the 1491s

Loris Taylor (Hopi), president and CEO, Native Public Media


Daniel Carpenter

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