This is a non-partisan event. Seeding Sovereignty and the NNA do not endorse candidates.

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Iowa is ground zero for the 2020 Presidential election. The National Network Assembly (NNA) will convene August 22-25, 2019 in Iowa and will host 200 grassroots leaders and organizers from across the country. Participants will network and plan actions as well as identify collaborative opportunities. With deepened relationships and broadened skills, progressive leaders will return home equipped and energized to mobilize the collective power of their communities.

Seeding Sovereignty is the invited Indigenous partner of the NNA and is curating an Indigenous Political Engagement Summit as part of this catalytic event. This 2-day summit will bring 30-35 cutting-edge and radical Indigenous leaders from Turtle Island together to learn, network, and strategize around issues important to Indigenous political engagement. We thank the NNA for recognizing our work and, working with us and funding the Summit.

The Indigenous Political Engagement Summit will be taking place on the heels of the inaugural Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum which we were honored to co-host August 19-20. ⁣⁣To be organizing at this level and be involved in these two historically significant events during a time of climate crisis and a back-sliding governmental majority, is a true honor and a feat at the same time. The Indigenous voice will no longer be overlooked on the national political stage. ⁣

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The idea for this summit emerged from SHIFT (Seeding the Hill with Indigenous FreeThinkers) and the work that we are doing on the ground in Iowa and across the nation. SHIFT is Seeding Sovereignty’s political engagement program launched to empower the political voice of Indigenous Peoples in order to impact the 2020 Presidential election. This project was developed out of the need to create long term change by decolonizing the American colonial-capitalist political system. Indigenous Peoples have long spoken of the repercussions of colonial-capitalism, the need for a regenerative economy, land stewardship for the generations to come, and the important role of women. SHIFT’s mission is motivated by the ceaseless assault on Indigenous communities, disproportionately coveted by the extraction industry and poisoned by insatiable greed for oil, gas, coal, uranium, timber, dams, Big-Ag, CAFOs and more. Along with violence to the earth comes danger to our people--we and our cultures are in crisis with the highest rates of poverty, illness, youth suicide, missing and murdered people in this country.

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For questions, contact:

Christine Nobiss

Plains Cree/Saulteaux

SHIFT Director

Seeding Sovereignty 




Thank you to the National Network Assembly for you partnership and for supporting this work.




9:20 - 10:20 Introductions 

10:20 - 11:20 Tai Pelli, Borikén Taíno

Knowing your rights; using the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, other Mechanisms & Conventions

Exercising our Political Power by understanding our Rights, International Mechanisms and Conventions. The importance of community education, train-the-trainer sessions as a tool to effectively address the issues that impact us and our future generations.

11:20 - 12:20 Oj Semans, Rosebud Sioux

The Native American Presidential Forum and Increasing Native Voter Access 

An overview of the years of voter access and political engagement work that Four Directions carried out that culminated in the inaugural Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum from August 19-20, 2019

1:30 - 2:00 Mellor Willie, Navajo

Our Footsteps are Sacred: Navigating the World of Politics as a Two-Spirit Leader

Two-Spirit Leaders face unique challenges in establishing their place in the world of politics. However, their journey creates opportunities to pave a new course for building leaders and to make valuable contributions to the progressive political agenda. 

2:00 - 3:30 Mellor Willie, Navajo

Message Box Workshop

Refining our messages for maximum impact. A native vote exercise with the National Congress of American Indians.

3:40 - 4:40 Mahrinah von Schlegel, Tewa

Using PACs to Support Indigenous Issues

In this session participants will receive a brief history on Political Action Committees as a political entity, the different types of PACs, what they can and cannot support, possibilities and limitations, potential usages in support of both hyperlocal and national issues relevant to indigenous communities and individuals, and a walk through of how to form a PAC with a PAC-model canvas exercise to share with their home organizations, communities, etc.

4:45 - 5:45 Remy, Diné (Navajo)

Direct Action Guerrilla Media: Presidential Campaigns And Beyond

In the 2014 election for the office of Navajo Nation President, there were a few unexpected variables or wildcards if you will, that helped change how campaigns are run on the reservation to this day. Using traditional Diné governance structures and direct action, culture based guerilla marketing tactics these reasonable radicals were able to level the playing by bridging the gap between young and old, traditional and modern Diné people. This session will explore all aspects of this campaign and how as Indigenous people we can weaponize our social media for social change to protect the environment on our continent for future generations. 


9:45 - 10:45 Joshua Gregory, Cherokee Nation

Indian Country Counts

Ensuring that the next decade of federal spending respects Indian Country. 

10:50 - 11:45 Eryn Wise, Jicarilla Apache Nation and Laguna Pueblo

Questions for Candidates Workshop

Group work to establish a list of questions that should be asked of every candidate running for POTUS in 2020.

11:50 - 12:20 Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree/Saulteaux

Non-Partisan Conduct as a 501(c)3 

How to engage in the world of politics during elections as a 501(c)3.

12:30 - 12:50  Summit Participants 


Comments and questions from participants and planning for the next summit.

1. The Upcoming Presidential Election - Targeting the candidates and getting an Indigenous platform into the 2020 race. Topics include:

- Building Indigenous political networks during the campaign season

- How do we get Presidential candidates to carry out land acknowledgments 

- How to strengthen the Indigenous role in the Green New Deal 

- Bird-Dogging candidates on Indigenous issues

- Engaging Indigenous Peoples to organize and vote next November

- Working on campaigns and the roles of Native American Advisers 

2. Long Term Political Engagement - How to build Indigenous sovereignty while engaging in the US Political system. Topics Include:

- Why engage with the American colonial-capitalist political system? Can we decolonize the existing political narrative?

- Understanding lobbying and the unique government-to-government relationships between First Nations and the federal government

- What issues stop Indigenous Peoples from voting, running for office and organizing?

- Running and organizing a campaign for tribal government

- How do build a network and funding resource for Indigenous Peoples doing political engagement work and consultation work for candidates

- The historic election of two Indigenous women into congress

- Addressing the increased dispersal of Indigenous Peoples from rural reservations to urban centers 

- How do we build beyond 2020? (The States of Change organization projects that by 2024, millennials will comprise 45% of eligible voters)