Projects & Initiatives
1. Tribal Governance Initiative
Tribal Organizational Assessment Project
One of the major contracts that the American Indian Policy Institute was awarded in the first year was to conduct an assessment of the organizational structure of the departments of a tribe in Arizona. This ground-breaking project involved over 35 meetings and interviews with elected officials, department directors, staff and members. The American Indian Policy Institute component of the project culminated in a 200 page report with detailed analysis of various options for re-organizing departments to improve delivery of governmental services. The American Indian Policy Institute Executive Director and Director presented and discussed the analysis in several day-long work sessions with elected officials and their executive staff, department directors, Standing Committees and the Council. The highest elected official of the tribe cited the project as one of the three top accomplishments of his first term in office and listed implementation of the re-organization as a major goal of his second term.
Tribal Planning Summits
In October 2007, the ASU School of Planning (Dr. David Pijawka), the American Indian Policy Institute and the University of New Mexico Planning Program (coordinated by Dr. Ted Jojola) conducted a two-day Summit with Arizona and New Mexico tribal planners to determine the technical assistance and academic needs of tribal planners; this summit was funded in part by the Ak-Chin Indian Community which is highly affected by growth in the surrounding jurisdictions. Over 75 tribal planners throughout Arizona and New Mexico participated in the Summit. Representatives of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Department of Interior also participated in the workshop. The ASU School of Planning Team produced a Summit Proceedings that detailed the strategic issues identified at the Summit and outlined a series of possible next steps to continue to support the development of tribal planning capacity, a critical pre-requisite to successful tribal development.
In November 2008, the School of Planning and the American Indian Policy Institute again co-sponsored a second Tribal Planning Summit. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona also joined as a sponsor. This summit focused on promising case studies of planning projects among Arizona tribes. Tribal Planners at the summit discussed the possibility of initiating a Tribal Planners Association (starting in Arizona and New Mexico). Tribal leaders and planners discussed the critical need for more information and tools in developing tribal capacity for ‘development services’ – the ability to plan, review and construct public and commercial buildings and structures. The ASU collaborative team of the American Indian Policy Institute and School of Planning is preparing the curriculum for a third workshop that will focus on building tribal development services. Tribal governments are at a disadvantage in making use of the stimulus funding (ARRA), which gives priority to ‘shovel ready projects’, because of their limited planning and development capacity.
Tribal Financial Manager Certificate
At the request of the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), the American Indian Policy Institute developed a professional certification program for tribal financial managers. The project is a partnership with the ASU School of Public Affairs, the Native Nations Institute and NAFOA. The Certification covers basic information on federal Indian law as well as the areas of financial management that are unique to tribal governments, including Self-Determination (638) and Self-Governance contracting; NAFOA is the accrediting agency for the national certificate program. The course is intended as a first level in a potential series that will eventually include certifications on specific topics including taxation, payroll, grants management and tribal enterprise financial management. The first in-classroom course will be offered in the fall of 2009 and a distance-learning (on-line) version will be offered in 2010.
Certified Public Managers for Tribal Managers
The American Indian Policy Institute is collaborating with the Bob Ramsey Executive Education Program in the College of Public Programs in offering a tribal-specific section of the nationally accredited Certified Public Managers Program. In discussions about how the university can best serve tribal governments, tribal administrative officers and leaders identified as a top priority a need to develop their managers. ASU’s Executive Education Program offers the Certified Public Manager professional program which has been used by cities, towns, counties and the state for decades to build their management teams. The tribal curriculum includes a module on federal Indian law and the various course modules will be team taught with tribal experts. A special element to the course will be a joint session with a section of non-tribal CPM course participants; the large group will be given a multi-jurisdictional case study to work on together as part of the program.
2. American Indian Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development Initiative
The American Indian Policy Institute and ASU Technopolis received a grant under the Kauffman Foundation-funded initiative at the university to conduct two-day workshops (one academic credit) for American Indian students on starting a business or venture within a sustainable tribal development context. A key element of the workshops is presentations by successful American Indian business people identified with assistance of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Students who participated in the workshop are extremely positive about the course. Many of the students praised the nation-building approach that is at the core of the workshops.
Three of the students requested to continue with their business/venture concepts through subsequent independent study courses. In addition, many of the students who participated in the workshops asked for an opportunity to learn more. In response, the American Indian Policy Institute and ASU Technopolis (a business start-up training and mentoring center) submitted a proposal to the National Collegiate Inventors and Investors Alliance to develop a more extensive curriculum. The proposal was funded and the American Indian Policy Institute-Technopolis Team is developing two, three-credit courses that will be offered through American Indian Studies. The first course is a full-semester expansion of the two-day workshops on starting a business/venture. The second course is a hands-on and guided practicum in which students will start the process to initiate a business or venture. These courses will be part of the ASU unique Entrepreneurship Certificate program. Students at ASU have an opportunity to obtain a certificate in entrepreneurship by taking three sequential courses common to all majors and then taking a final two courses in their major that culminate in a practicum of starting a business/venture. The American Indian Policy Institute/Technopolis courses will enable students in American Indian Studies to obtain this world-class certificate in Entrepreneurship from ASU.
Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Academy
As part of the sustainable entrepreneurship initiative, the American Indian Policy Institute is conducting its first summer youth academy on entrepreneurship for American Indian high school youth. This Y.E.S. Academy (Youth Entrepreneurship Summer Academy) is funded by Salt River Financial Services Institution for twenty-six students from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community who will participate in a three-and-a-half day program on campus.
3. Tribes and Towns Initiative
A major strategic effort of the American Indian Policy Institute is the Tribes and Towns Initiative to assist tribes and local governments to build relationships and work effectively with each other. Particularly because of the explosive growth, both on and off reservations in Arizona, there is a strong need for new and innovative approaches for tribes and neighboring towns and cities (and counties) to collaborate and work together.
‘Working Effectively with Tribal Governments’ Workshops
As part of the Tribes and Towns initiative, the American Indian Policy Institute developed a curriculum on “Working Effectively with Tribal Governments” and has delivered it to intergovernmental staff of cities in Arizona as well as state agency tribal liaisons. The curriculum can be covered in a partial-day ‘power session’ (usually for elected officials) as well as a one or two-day work session.
4. Tribal Environmental Sustainability Initiative:
Tribal governments are highly committed to sustainable communities and sustainable development. They have both practical interests and cultural values that support sustainability; tribes intend to remain on their lands and do not want to devalue their resources for future generations. Because environmental management is a tribal priority, the American Indian Policy Institute has a number of projects in this area.
Joint Air Toxics Assessment Project
The American Indian Policy Institute has an EPA contract to coordinate and participate in the Joint Air Toxics Assessment Project (JATAP), a collaborative, multi-jurisdiction effort to assess the distribution, sources, risks and potential mitigation strategies for air toxics in the Valley. As part of JATAP, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the Gila River Indian Community Department of Environmental Quality and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Department gathered high quality monitoring data for 12 months from a number of sites throughout the Valley.
The US EPA assigned a research scientist from the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards to a special detail in the American Indian Policy Institute from October 2007 to September 2008 to work on JATAP. The Project included a Forum, held at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in June 2008. Air quality regulators from the counties, tribes, state and EPA as well as air quality scientists from throughout Arizona and California met to discuss the monitoring data and risk assessment activities. Director Mariella coordinated the Forum panel on Outreach and Risk Communication and presented her research on mitigation strategies to reduce risk from air toxics.
US Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and First Tribal Air Forum
From 2002 through 2008, Director Mariella was a member of the US EPA Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) that meets quarterly in Washington D.C. Director Mariella initiated and was the lead coordinator for the first Tribal Air Quality Forum of the CAAAC which was held in Washington, D.C. in May 2007. This forum was a formal part of the CAAAC agenda and was attended by the top managers of the Office of Air and Radiation of the US EPA. Director Mariella made a presentation on the Joint Air Toxics Assessment Project (JATAP).
Gila River Indian Community Clean Air Excellence Award
Director Mariella submitted a nomination to the national EPA – Clean Air Excellence Award program for the Gila River Indian Community Air Quality regulatory program. Gila River is the first tribe in the nation to develop a full regulatory program under the Clean Air Act. EPA selected Gila River’s program for one of the 2008 Clean Air Excellence awards.
Water Quality and Quantity - Arizona Water Institute-funded Project
The American Indian Policy Institute conducted a project with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) and Dr. William Auberle, Professor of Engineering at NAU, on tribal water management and growth in Arizona. The project was funded in the first round of competitive grant awards by the Arizona Water Institute. The project brought together tribal leaders and technical staff for a number of work sessions during 2007 to develop creative, technical and policy solutions to key tribal water management issues. The project culminated in a two-day Forum held at the Heard Museum in November of 2007. At the Forum, tribal leaders decided to move forward to develop a Tribal Water Policy Council, which will be a groundbreaking collaborative effort. With a second grant from the Arizona Water Institute and additional funding to ITCA from the Bureau of Reclamation, the American Indian Policy Institute will provide support to the on-going development of an Arizona Tribal Water Policy Council.
The American Indian Policy Institute has a highly-successful internship program. When a tribe contracts with the American Indian Policy Institute for a project, the staff identifies ASU students from that tribe to work on the project. These students get academic credit and are often paid to work on the projects; they gain knowledge about their communities and the tribes appreciate their members being employed and trained on projects they fund. The Project Interns have gone on to graduate programs or have been hired in high-level administrative and management positions at their tribes.
The American Indian Policy Institute staff also supervise ASU students working on American Indian policy projects from academic programs throughout the University including American Indian Studies, Inter-disciplinary Studies, College of Law, School of Planning, Del E. Webb School of Construction and Political Science. Many of these students receive independent study credit for their work with the American Indian Policy Institute.