For many Native Americans, poverty is a critical barrier to personal and tribal empowerment. The average family income on reservations is $2,500 per year, and 5085 percent of reservation residents are unemployed. Tribes are searching for ways to reduce dependency, advance autonomy and further their attempts at self-determination.
Economic Development: Struggles for Empowerment will be the focus of speakers at Native American Law Day, 15 p.m. Friday (April 16) in Room 100, Hutchins Hall. The Blackfoot Crossing Singers of Alberta, Canada, will perform at a 5 p.m. reception in the Lawyers Club Lounge.
The program is sponsored by the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), Minority Student Services and Native Americans at the University of Michigan, with support from the Law School, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of Minority Affairs, Law School Student Senate and Michigan Student Assembly.
The program will hopefully provide a forum for Native Americans to consider not only the legal and ideological struggles of Native American economic development, but also to hear renowned speakers present practical advice and strategies, says Jon Ed Brown, a Chickasaw and NALSA president.
Attempts to promote change must include a realistic analysis of options and the steps required to achieve them. NALSA hopes Native Americans and others can gain a better perspective of Native American economic development and the resulting objectives: self-sustaining, cumulative economic growth; expanding employment; and a reduction of poverty.
Two panels will separately address national concerns and situations unique to Michigan tribes.
National speakers include Manley A. Begay Jr., Navajo, executive director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, and co-executive director of the National Executive Education Program for Native American Leadership. He will be joined by David Matheson, Couer dAlene, former deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and former chairman of the Couer dAlene Tribe of Idaho.
Michigan speakers are Ronald G. Douglas, chief appellate judge, Grand Tra-verse Bay Chippewas and member of the Native American Business Council of Michigan; John Bailey, Black Wolf Clan, Odawa Nation, of the Northern Michigan Office of the Michigan Department of Commerce Sales Division and former executive director of the Michigan Commission on Indian Affairs; and Richard Tillman, Saginaw Chippewas, business development director, and member, board of directors of the American Indian Business Development Consortium.
For information, call Brown, 763-8514, or Cynthia Smith, 741-1765.