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The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) held its 37th Annual Conference in Portland, OR on April 16, 2019. NAFOA assembled tribal leaders, policymakers, and financial professionals to discuss current economic and investment topics confronting Native Nations. Both Joan Timeche (Hopi), Native Nations Institute (NNI) Executive Director, and Miriam Jorgensen, NNI Research Director, were invited speakers.
Timeche spoke on the panel “Does Your Tribal Constitution Need a Refresh for Today's Economy?” She asked participants to consider whether their governing systems created environments that could support development of the kind they wanted for their peoples and nations. She presented key research finding and highlighted opportunities for tribal governments to clarify roles, rules, and goals in both constitutions and codes to support a sustained economy. Other panelists included William J. Brooks, Special Counsel for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi; Kurtis Trevan, CEO of Gun Lake Investments; and moderator Jamie Fullmer, Chairman and CEO of the Blue Stone Strategy Group. Each of these speakers acknowledged the pivotal role that NNI and The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED) have played in generating foundational, useful research and in creating tailored education and services for tribes. Brooks noted that his nation had built its tribal enterprise on the lessons shared by NNI and HPAIED.
Jorgensen moderated the plenary panel "Time to Rethink Per Capita Payments," which looked at best practices for sustainability of tribal nations and their citizens. The panel speakers included:
The panel conversation stressed the importance of strategic thinking about distribution payments, the need to educate tribal members and tribal government officials about the distribution options, and the importance of linking tribal government revenues to the long-term sustainability of Native nations. NNI commends NAFOA's ongoing commitment to carrying this work into future conversations. According to Research Director Jorgensen, NNI looks forward to additional opportunities to collaborate with NAFOA and other Native nations on this important topic.