Seventeen Citizens from 12 Tribes Join Program to Strengthen Skills, Serve Native People
(St. Paul, MN – November 28, 2012) Seventeen individuals committed to advancing the self-determination of their Native nations form the fourth cohort of the Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Rebuilders Program.
These five men and 12 women have experience in diverse fields including health care, education, tribal administration, business, cultural resources and community development. They directly serve the people of their nations as educators, lawyers, elected tribal leaders and administrators of a variety of social services programs.
Jaime A. Pinkham (Nez Perce) is vice president at the Bush Foundation and leads its efforts to partner with tribal nations, including the Rebuilders program. He said, “For Native nation-rebuilding to reach its greatest potential, the people must participate with their elected leaders to craft an authentic governance structure. These 17 new Rebuilders share a commitment to such participation—first by their willingness to improve their knowledge about nation-building and second by their efforts to work with elected leaders in their nation’s exercise of its sovereignty. Together with the 50 Rebuilders who came before them, these 17 unique and passionate Native citizens are valuable assets to their nations and can inspire all Native citizens to participate in nation-rebuilding efforts.”
The Rebuilders’ names, tribal affiliations and bios are given below and at BushFoundation.org.
The Rebuilders have gathered today in Prior Lake, Minnesota, for their first meeting, which ends Friday. Four trainings over the two-year program are led by several regional and national partners with expertise in nation-rebuilding, organizing and issues specific to Indian Country, including the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
A Rebuilder from the new cohort said, “I think that my participation as a Native Nation Rebuilder will provide me with new ideas, a chance to interact with others and new avenues that will make me a more effective leader for my people.”
The Foundation launched the Rebuilders program in support of the elected leaders of the 23 Native nations, who said that partnering with other emerging and existing Native leaders will be crucial to the success of their nations over the long term. Rebuilders make a significant commitment. They agree to participate consistently in ongoing activities throughout the two-year period, to actively share knowledge with peers and with their respective nations’ governments, and to develop and implement nation-rebuilding action plans.
About the Bush Foundation
Our mission is to be a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. Learn more at BushFoundation.org.
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Native Nation Rebuilders - Cohort 4 – November 2012
(A listing by Native nation follows)
Natalie Bergquist (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) is the president of Lower Brule Community College, a tribal college based in Lower Brule, South Dakota. Prior to this position, Natalie served as the budget and finance director for the South Dakota Department of Health for three years. She is a graduate of National American University with a master’s in business administration and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education. Natalie is the mother of two sons.
Rodney Bordeaux (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) is the former president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. His tenure as president spanned seven years. Before being elected president, Rodney served as a tribal council representative for 13 years. Since October 2012, he has served as the chief operating officer of St. Francis Mission, based in St. Francis, South Dakota, within the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Rodney received his bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and a master’s degree from Oglala Lakota College.
Kim Clausen (Oglala Sioux Tribe) is a former tribal council representative from the LaCreek District of the Pine Ridge Reservation. She served on tribal council for four years. Prior to holding elected office, Kim worked for 17 years at the environmental protection office of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Kim is currently the executive director of the Wild Horse Butte Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that serves the LaCreek District. She is a graduate of Oglala Lakota College and the University of Wyoming, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Kerste DeCoteau (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) is the coordinator of a grant received by her nation from the Administration for Native Americans. In this position, she is responsible for creating a community outreach center in one of the most isolated communities on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Prior to this job, Kerste spent four years working on mental health issues at K-12 schools in the Turtle Mountains. She was also selected as a delegate on a constitutional revision committee assembled to take part in the reform of her nation’s constitution. She received her bachelor's degree from Indiana State University and is currently completing a master's degree in mental health counseling from Capella University.
Kade Ferris (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) has an extensive background in anthropology, with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the subject. He currently serves as the senior archaeologist for an engineering and surveying firm. Previously, Kade was the director of the natural resources and tribal historic preservation office at his tribe. He was also vice chairman of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Historical Society and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi.
Grace Goldtooth-Compos (Cansayapi otunwe, Lower Sioux Indian Community of the Bdewakantunwan Isantee Dakota band) is dedicated to the preservation and revival of the Dakota language. She is a teacher of the language at Dakota Wicohan, an organization based in Morton, Minnesota. Grace is currently working toward a Dakota language teaching certificate from the University of Minnesota. She is interested in learning about how other Native nations infuse traditional governing practices into their modern governments. She is also a mother of four children and enjoys traveling throughout Indian Country.
Chris Hall (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe) has owned a consulting and contracting business for the past 10 years. Within the last two years, Chris has become actively engaged in constitutional reform and community outreach with his nation. He enjoys spending time outdoors and riding motorcycles in his free time. Chris attended the University of South Dakota.
Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen (Oglala Sioux Tribe) is the executive director of the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi, a nonprofit child welfare agency based on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Emily previously worked for six years at Casey Family Programs as a community developer. She is the mother of four children and has four grandchildren. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado.
Chase Iron Eyes (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) is the founder of Last Real Indians, a website that features writings from an Indigenous perspective. Chase has also practiced law at his own firm, Iron Eyes Law Office, PLLC. Prior to starting the firm, he worked for his nation as a legal specialist. In 2008, he helped organized the first culture camp at Standing Rock to reconnect youth to their indigenous culture. Chase received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota and his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he was president of the Native American Law Student Association.
Melinda Iverson (White Earth Nation) is the human resources director at the Shooting Star Casino, Hotel, and Events Center in Mahnomen, Minnesota. She also serves on the Mii-gii-way-win Advisory Board, which donates funds to organizations serving White Earth citizens. Melinda attended Bemidji State University. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her niece and nephew.
Darrell Kingbird (Red Lake Nation) is a teacher at the Nandagikendaamin Culture and Language Revitalization Project. Darrell has served as an Ojibwe language and culture consultant to several school districts in northern Minnesota. He is also active on the powwow circuit, often serving as a master of ceremonies, advisor or arena director.
Jennifer Kolden (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) has worked at Securian Financial Group in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for 10 years. Jennifer hopes to apply her business knowledge and Rebuilder experience to help her nation as it adjusts to the Bakken oil boom. She is also active in programs that mentor Native youth in the Twin Cities. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s in business administration from Augsburg College. Jennifer is Arikara.
Crystal Owen (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) is a methamphetamine prevention coordinator for her nation and a 2011 Healthy Native Communities Fellow. Crystal is the host of the weekly radio talk show Getting Real About Life on the Rez. She holds an associate’s degree in business management from Sisseton-Wahpeton College and worked for the college for 11 years as the financial aid director. Crystal is the mother of seven children and has seven grandchildren.
Genevieve Smith (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) is the director of administration and project management at Common Enterprise Development Corporation, based in Mandan, North Dakota. One of her current projects involves support for developing a long-term strategic plan for her nation. Genevieve holds a bachelor’s degree in health services administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She and her husband have two children.
Julie Thorstenson (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) works at the Indian Health Service. Prior to this position, she served as the Lakota campus director at Presentation College based in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She also spent seven years as a biologist for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Game, Fish, and Parks Department. She received her undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from South Dakota State University.
Mary Waln (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) recently began her first term on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council, representing the He Dog Community. She spent the previous eight years as community chairwoman of that community. Mary has lived on a ranch since her childhood and currently ranches on land within the Rosebud Reservation. She is the mother of a son. Mary attended the University of South Dakota.
Marie Zephier (Oglala Sioux Tribe) currently works as the tribal health research coordinator for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She received her bachelor’s degree from Creighton University and her master’s in public health policy and management from the University of Arizona. Additionally, she is pursuing a doctorate in public health from Walden University. Marie is the mother of two children.
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Cohort 4 Rebuilders Listed by Native Nation
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
Lower Sioux Indian Community
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen
Red Lake Nation
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Chase Iron Eyes
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
White Earth Nation