Students and faculty from AT&T’s Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy (CIPP) have crossed paths with the extraordinary Mary Katherine Nagle, a local lawyer and playwright, in multiple ways lately. They have learned from her unique legal expertise and been inspired by her Native American play, Sovereignty, which debuted at D.C.’s Arena Stage this winter.
Nagle, a partner in Pipestem Law and member of the Cherokee Nation, recently lectured students in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP), about the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Violence Against Women Act. NAPLP is a scholarship program for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian undergraduate and graduate students to study at GW.
During the class visit the NAPLP students gained insights into Native legal issues through her lecture and interactive discussion. She has significant experience in constitutional law related to federal Indian law, as well as cases that implicate statutory rights under Indian rights law. She has prepared and litigated cases in numerous high-level courts across the country.
After Nagle lectured to the class this winter they also attended a performance of Sovereignty. The play “travels the intersections of personal and political truths, historic and present struggles. Sarah Ridge Polson, a young Cherokee lawyer fighting to restore her Nation’s jurisdiction, must confront the ever-present ghosts of her grandfathers. With shadows stretching from 1830s Cherokee Nation (present-day Georgia) and Andrew Jackson’s White House to the Cherokee Nation in present-day Oklahoma, Sovereignty asks how high the flames of anger can rise before they ultimately consume the truth.”
Additionally, CIPP director Wendy Helgemo was a part of a panel discussion about Native American policy in connection with the play’s release at Arena Stage.
More Recent News from AT&T’s Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy (CIPP)
- In November 2017, for Native American Heritage Month, CIPP hosted more than 100 attendees at a film screening and panel discussion of More Than a Word, a documentary that looks inside the growing movement to change the name of the Washington R*dskins football team.
- In January 2018, as part of King Week, CIPP assistant director Elizabeth Rule moderated a discussion, "Together in the Struggle: Solidarity, Allyship, and Community Building." In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, the panel brought together diverse communities of the university to explore strategies for uniting in struggle across race, ethnicity, nationality, gender and gender expression, sexuality, ability, religion, and class lines.
- In February 2018, NAPLP students attended the State of Indian Nations Address at the Newseum as part of the 2018 Mid-Year Conference of the National Congress of American Indians. Each year, the NCAI President addresses members of Congress, government officials, tribal leaders and citizens, and the American public.
- February 2018 - CIPP attended the National Indian Women's Honoring Lunch where Deb Haaland (Pueblo) and Juanita Ahtone (Kiowa) were honored by tribal leaders for their public service to Native Americans.
Nicholas Courtney (Makah), NAPLP Senior Program Associate, and Jackie Johnson (Makah) welcomed luncheon guests at the National Indian Women’s Honoring Luncheon (Photo courtesy of Wendy Helgemo).
- In March 2018, Richard M. Milanovich Fellows Erla Sagg (Navajo) and Brook Thompson (Yurok) attended the Richard M. Milanovich Legacy Hike in Palm Springs, CA. After hiking the Indian Canyons, home of the world's largest grove of Washingtonia, the only palm trees native to the U.S., the fellows were recognized, and they thanked the Milanovich Family and the leaders and the people of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for their support of native education.
Richard M. Milanovich Fellows hiked Indian Canyons, the world’s largest Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm) oasis (Photo courtesy of Wendy Helgemo).
- In March 2018, CIPP director Wendy Helgemo attended the Elizabeth J. Somers Women's Leadership Conference, "Leading for Inclusion," and was part of a panel, "The Challenges and Advantages of Living in a Global Community," to discuss education, engagement and service. According to GW Today’s report of the event, Wendy Helgemo, founding director of the AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy, has more than 20 years of experience in federal Native American law, policy and working with tribal governments.
While on the panel, she shared how her grandfather, a World War II veteran, and her mother, the first Native American woman to be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, inspired her career path and her commitment to service. “I’ve had some real trailblazers in my life who modeled education and leadership,” Ms. Helgemo said.