-- Two members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will
be going to New Zealand March 9 as a part of the American Indian
Bear Don't Walk and Terry Tanner will return from New Zealand on
Don't Walk will be conducting fundraisers to help defray costs of
the trip. She and others will be selling raffle tickets for, among
other things, a star quilt, jewelry, ceramic statues and baby bundles.
is also seeking donations of gifts that she will present to the
Maori people. For more information, call her at 406-824-2117.
Don't Walk will be staying in a Maori village and discuss international
law and language preservation. "The Maori have a head start
on us in those areas," she said.
American Indian Ambassador Program has been in existence for 10
years. Each year up to 16 participants are selected from a national
pool of applicants. The Ambassadors represent a cross section of
the American Indian population. Both urban and reservation-based
individuals are selected. Program selectors attempt to build a class
of diverse individuals through a selection matrix that accounts
for gender, regional, tribal, social, educational and professional
array of professions is usually represented in each class, including
law enforcement, health, public administration, the arts, business,
telecommunications, education and tribal governance. Each participant
must take on a "community project," Bear Don't Walk said.
Bear Don't Walk, a lawyer, said she her project is to get more Indian
people into law schools. "There are a lot of lawyers but not
a lot of Indian lawyers," she said. "There needs to be
more of them and I want to help them get into law school."
Don't Walk said she visits high school classes and informs the students
of the need for Indian lawyers, where they may attend law school
and discusses the intricacies of federal Indian law, including treaty
law. "I discuss how the law affects them and I engage them
-- Indian and non-Indian students -- in discussions. Many of them
don't know about Indian sovereignty and how it affects their every-day
Don't Walk, who spends two to three hours with students in schools,
said she is surprised what the students do know and what they don't
know. They understand the basic concepts of treaties and how they
may affect hunting and fishing on and off reservations but really
don't grasp the overall legal aspects and their importance to tribal
we start to talk to them they are really interested in knowing more,"
she said. "I challenge the Indian students to take the non-Indian
perspective and the non-Indian to take the Indian perspective. It
helps them discuss the issue better and more rationally if they
can see the other side."
of its national reputation and stature, Americans for Indian Opportunity
can recruit skilled leaders to engage the Ambassadors in discussions
and interactive sessions. From tribal elected officials and directors
of national organizations to members of the United States Congress,
and the President's Cabinet, the Ambassadors are exposed to many
different leadership styles and levels of influence. Furthermore,
the Ambassadors meet and talk with Indigenous leaders from throughout
the world and representatives of the international community.