10 Conferences About Indigenous Issues in 2017

Conferences about indigenous issues provide an interactive forum for attendees of diverse ethnic groups to address threats to Natives’ well-being.

Indigenous people are distributed across six continents, excluding Antarctica, with an estimated total population of 350 million. From the Tuareg in Algeria to the Quechua in Peru and Navajo in the United States, native tribes are consistently facing threats to their sovereignty, land, and culture. Societal and legal advocates spearheading policies to protect indigenous rights can greatly benefit from these events.

The following are 10 conferences in North America that shine a light on concerns hindering the prosperity of aboriginal people.

1. NANAS 25th Joint National Conference: Dallas, TX

February 13-18, 2017

At the Westin Dallas Park Center, the National Association of Native American Studies (NANAS) will collaborate with other ethnic minority associations for the 25th Joint National Conference. This six-day event is expected to attract 2,000 attendees for 600+ sessions discussing current indigenous issues. Paper presentations will address the history, politics, economics, education, healthcare, and religion of Native tribes, including Pacific Islanders. The closing luncheon will also feature an inspiring speech from Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter and a successful peace activist.

Conference Website

2. National Reservation Economic Summit: Las Vegas, NV

March 13-16, 2017

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) will host its Reservation Economic Summit in March at The Mirage Hotel in America’s “Entertainment Capital.” Nearly 4,000 attendees will engage in four days of stimulating discussions on central issues affecting the Native American business community. Individual registration at $749 will include access to the Capital Fair, Business Boot Camp, Golf Tournament, and invaluable networking. Hundreds of exhibitors, including SNC and Southwest Gas Corporation, will present at the Procurement Matchmaking Expo too.

Conference Website

3. Native American Critical Issues Conference: Marquette, MI

March 23-25, 2017

Established in 1977, the Michigan Indian Education Council arranges its Native American Critical Issues Conference (NACIC) yearly for three days on Northern Michigan University’s Marquette campus. It’s intended to promote academic improvement and eradicate adverse variables hindering Native youth from success in poor-performing schools. Educational leaders from across the U.S. and Canada will offer strategies for the theme “Rebuilding Traditional Knowledge Systems.” Past keynoters have included Lightfoot, Eva Menefee, Levi Rickert, and Jay Rosner. The MIEC Distinguished Service Award recipients are also honored.

Conference Website

4. NICWA Protecting Our Children Conference: San Diego, CA

April 2-5, 2017

Social work, mental health, juvenile justice, and tribal leaders will attend the Native Indian Child Welfare Association’s (NICWA) Protecting Our Children Conference in early-April. Hosted by Harrah’s Resort Southern California, the four-day event will explore the theme “Under One Sky: Weaving Love, Culture, and Traditions into Every Home.” Indigenous issues like child abuse, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and adoption will be covered in 60+ group sessions. Training institutes adhering to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 are included too.

Conference Website

5. 42nd Annual Indian Law Conference: Scottsdale, AZ

April 6-7, 2017

The Federal Bar Association will kick off its 42nd Annual Indian Law Conference on April 6th at the Talking Stick Resort in sunny Scottsdale. Centered on the theme “Pillars of Sovereignty,” the meeting draws tribal lawyers to discuss legal issues facing indigenous peoples, including the Dakota Access Pipeline. FBA members and law school students may attend to share strategies for preserving the sovereignty of American Indian reservations in an uncertain future. Register before February 24th for the Early Bird discount of $430.

Conference Website

6. 35th Annual NAFWS National Conference: Rapid City, SD

May 2-4, 2017

Sponsored by the Great Plains Region, the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society’s (NAFWS) 35th Annual Conference will take place in Rapid City this May. After the Welcome Address from President Emerson Bullchief, the three-day conference will discuss environmental issues facing indigenous peoples nationwide. With climate change ominously looming, strategies will be shared to protect Native American fish and wildlife resources. Attendees could participate in the Conservation Law Enforcement Training. Awards, such as Biologist of the Year, will also be presented.

Conference Website

7. Native American Student Advocacy Institute: Albuquerque, NM

June 12-13, 2017

Each summer, the College Board organizes the Native American Student Advocacy Institute (NASAI) to bestow innovative approaches to resolve indigenous issues in higher education. That’s essential because statistics show that only 67 percent of U.S. Native youth graduate high school. In Albuquerque, educational professionals will congregate to promote equity for American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian students in college classrooms. Past plenary speakers have included Honorable Diane J. Humetewa, William Mendoza, Sweeney Windchief, and Bernadine Burnette.

Conference Website

8. NAIHC Annual Convention & Trade Show: Nashville, TN

June 27-29, 2017

Sponsored by AMERIND Risk and Travois, the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) Annual Convention & Trade Show will occur during late-June in Nashville. Around 750 attendees will engage in 70+ concurrent sessions to gain knowledge on indigenous issues like workplace safety, housing management, and asset building. Following the theme “Carving a Strong Future,” the three-day conference will include a traditional feast. The Leadership Institute will also award the Professional Indian Housing Managers Certification (PIHM) to eligible attendees.

Conference Website

9. World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education: Toronto, ON

July 24-29, 2017

Organized by Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP), the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education will welcome up to 5,000 people at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in July. The “Celebration of Resilience” attracts highly regard indigenous education experts from around the globe to share culturally grounded strategies. One important 2017 topic is expanding the Inuit Policy Framework used in schools. Community excursions are featured to experience Native issues firsthand. Events will launch immediately following the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow-Wow.

Conference Website

10. NCAI 74th Annual Convention & Marketplace: Milwaukee, WI

October 15-20, 2017

Formed in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) holds one of the country’s oldest and largest conferences about indigenous issues. This October, the 74th Annual Convention & Marketplace is heading to Milwaukee to confer about the latest policy issues, including Standing Rock, affecting Indian Country. For the member registration rate of $600, attendees will engage in 20+ presentations from the Hualapai, Oneida Nation, Chippewa, Menominee, and other tribes. Can’t-miss events include the Trade Show Networking Reception and Environmental Protection Agency Update.

Conference Website

Many remain unaware of how indigenous tribes globally are being threatened by mining or logging, evicted from native homelands, and exploited for intellectual property without recompense. Conferences are excellent venues for building awareness and sharing actionable strategies to preserve Native rights. Mark your calendar for some of these 10 conferences about indigenous issues in 2017 to help support these often neglected community members.

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