Indianz.Com Video: State of Indian Nations 2020 #SOIN2020

State of Indian Nations kicks off busy week for tribal leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Congress of American Indians is kicking off a busy week of events here as President Fawn Sharp delivers her first address as the new leader of the largest inter-tribal advocacy organization in the U.S.

Sharp, who also serves as president of the Quinault Nation, will present the State of Indian Nations on Monday morning. The annual address helps NCAI present its priorities, highlight successes and outline challenges facing tribes as they seek to hold the U.S. accountable to its trust and treaty obligations.

"Every single tribal nation across this continent and around this world is full of mighty, unstoppable power," Sharp said last October when she became only the third woman in NCAI's history to win election as the organization's president.

Since NCAI's 76th annual convention, which took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sharp has continued to advocate for some of Indian Country's most pressing needs. Just a couple of weeks ago, she helped lead a large tribal delegation at a critical court hearing, where the ability of tribes to protect their most valuable and vulnerable asset through the Indian Child Welfare Act, came under attack.

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and president of the Quinault Nation, stands outside of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana, following a hearing on the Indian Child Welfare Act on January 22, 2020. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
"The rights that we are advocating were not given to us by anyone. They were not given to us by Congress, they were not given to us by any state," Sharp said in an interview outside the steps of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"It exists by virtue of who we are as Indigenous peoples and tribal nations," Sharp said of tribes and their inherent sovereignty.

The days since the hearing have been busy for Sharp. In addition to addressing the needs of her people on the Quinault Nation in Washington state, she helped the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, an organization she once led as president, wrap up a successful winter meeting in Portland, Oregon.

The travels put Sharp together with another prominent Native woman leader. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), who is one of the first two Native women in Congress also was in Portland to meet with Northwest tribes.

The pair are sharing the spotlight once again, this time in the nation's capital. Following Sharp's address, Haaland will deliver a response from a Congressional perspective, reprising a role she played last year after her historic rise to the halls of power in D.C.

The State of Indian Nations will be live streamed from the Jack Morton Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University. Sharp is due to begin at 10:30am Eastern, with Haaland's response scheduled around 11am Eastern.

Starting on Tuesday, NCAI begins its executive council winter session. The event is being held at the Capital Hilton, not far from the White House.

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