This year we have a Special Election for the 2013-2014 President and 2014-2015 Past President. Please be sure to vote here.
As president-elect of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, I extend to you a special invitation to this year’s conference in Sacramento, May 19, 20, and 21. Indigenous intellectuals coming together to exchange ideas, network, and strategize ways to support Indigenous peoples’ struggles is important and not to be underestimated. Despite the many differences among us all as scholars, writers, and intellectuals, we must find ways to build coalitions on the national and international levels that help to reconceptualize today’s socio-economic-political circumstances at the level of tribe and the community. Our generation of Indigenous intellectuals has inherited the charge from those who came before us to bring our intellectual and activist knowledges together, and with open hearts and minds help to rebuild Native nations through respectful debate and coalition-building. We need practical solutions—now—leadership and groundwork for tackling real-life Native circumstances as well as for creating visions for future battles for Indigenous sovereignty.
We face many tough challenges and opportunities. Since NAISA’s conference last year in Tucson, so much has happened: attacks on undocumented workers, state employees, gays, unions, and people living in poverty. The rich get richer, and the corporations more powerful. While climate change threatens our world and our communities, opposition rises up against science as well as basic ethics. The shooting in Arizona that critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and left six others dead is symptomatic of a larger political atmosphere that promotes violence against and oppression of ethnic minorities not only in Arizona, but across the country and world. Mass incarceration of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Chicanos suggests alarming trends in a time when we require their leadership in our communities. Although the 9th Circuit Court has ruled those aspects of the law unconstitutional, the fact that prison industrial complex that played a role in the crafting of SB 1070 prompted the ruling Judge Noonan to describe the law as a “challenge and chilling foretaste” of what is to come. In many ways, as the U.S. goes, so goes the world, evident by the raids on suspected “terrorist cells” in New Zealand that disproportionately targeted Maori people. Meanwhile, our Indigenous youth commit suicide at alarming rates. NAISA can serve as a “think tank” to address these and a myriad of other issues, but the decision rests with the NAISA membership whether to make that happen. Environmental and resource management challenges alone demand solidarity among us—water is the new gold.
We must educate ourselves and each other, inspire and console, and crucially, not lose sight of the importance of bringing intellectual endeavors into line with the needs of the people and the land. The membership of NAISA decides its course—decides its leadership through its elections and decides the course of the organization through resolutions to its constitution and by-laws. If you have let your membership lapse, please return to NAISA. Let your voice be heard. You can renew your membership, or join if you are not already a member, and can register for the conference and book your room at the Hyatt Regency by starting at http://www.naisa.org/. You can also vote in the current elections. I look forward to seeing you in Sacramento.