Rebuilders Meet in Spearfish Canyon

Members of Cohort 7 pause for a photo. Pictured in back row (L-R) are Jayme Davis, Jess Hall, Eric Grey Cloud, BJ Rainbow, Travis Albers, Alayna Eagle Shield, Josh Flute and Nacole Walker. Front Row (L-R) Amber Finley, Janie Schroeder-Herman, CPN Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett, Pearl Walker-Swaney, Vi Waln and Sunshine Carlow.

By Vi Waln

SPEARFISH CANYON – Cohort 7 of the Native Nation Rebuilders recently participated in a 3-day session here, which focused on community assessment and a case study of tribal governance.


The highlight of the session was a presentation by John “Rocky” Barrett, Chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN). Barrett, who began as CPN Vice-Chairman in 1973, stated the tribe had 2.5 acres of land and $550 in the bank when he initially took office. The tribal headquarters was located in an abandoned mobile home once occupied by the Corp of Engineers.


“I am the 8th generation of my family to be Chairman of my Tribe,” Barrett stated. Today, the CPN owns and operates the First National Bank and Trust. They own $310 million in assets and their bank has a $500-million-dollar lending capital. He attributes the tribe’s economic success to the re-investing of all revenue brought in by their gaming operations.


The Native Nation Rebuilders (NNR) program is sponsored by the Bush Foundation, the Native Governance Center and the Native Nations Institute. The program selects several citizens each year to participate in a cohort. Each cohort is selected from applicants who are members of 23 tribes.


Cohort members come together to learn new ways of strengthening tribal governance. They study innovative tribal governance practices, while strengthening their leadership skills. Each member is passionate about building a brighter future for their respective tribe.


Cohort members, referred to as Rebuilders, must make a 2-year commitment to participate in the program. During their first year, Rebuilders develop their knowledge, skills and connections to effectively lead nation-building efforts. During year 2, Rebuilders develop and implement an action plan within their community to accomplish local nation-building projects.


The Rebuilders of Cohort 7 include 20 citizens from the following tribes:


Standing Rock: Alayna Eagle Shield, Eric Grey Cloud, Nacole Walker, Pearl Walker-Swaney and Sunshine Carlow.


Turtle Mountain Chippewa: Travis Albers, Jayme Davis, BJ Rainbow, Kenneth Davis and Janie Schroeder-Herman.


Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara: Allan Demarey, David Walker, Jess Hall and Amber Finley.


Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa: Herb Fineday, Jr. and Donna Ennis.


White Earth Band of Ojibwe: Margaret Rousu.


Bois Forte Chippewa: Nicole Pieratos.


Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe: Josh Flute.


Rosebud Sioux Tribe: Viola Waln.


The Native Nation Rebuilders project encourages applications from enrolled members of the 23 tribes that share geography with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Rebuilders must have a strong interest in tribal governance, commit to attend 4 in-person session and complete assignments between sessions. Applicants must be at least 25 years old by the date of the first session and currently reside in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations.


The application period for Cohort 8 will open this summer. Applicants must complete an online application. In addition, references from 2 non-relatives who have knowledge of the applicant’s values, character and goals are also required.


For more information on the Rebuilders Fellowship, visit the Native Nation Rebuilders



Published by Vi Waln


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