Nations within Nations:

Living Dialogues on Governance and Cultures

November 2 – 3,  2009  
Open to the Public – Free Admission



Sponsored by Creighton University College of Arts & Sciences,
Native American Studies Program, School of Law,
and College of Business

Creighton University
Harper Center, 3028


Dialogue Overview:
This conference, the first of a series, will consider the cultural and legal status of ethnic groups within modern Nation States. Multidisciplinary in approach, the conference will examine the historical and contemporary political and legal status of these groups as they exist within federal or unitary structures of a larger state. In doing this we will pay special attention to how the Academy has been of service to indigenous Nations and ways in which we can work in solidarity with these groups.

Creighton University’s Native American Studies Program will host the conference, which seeks to place Native American struggles for sovereignty in the wider context of similar efforts globally. In addition to the local and international academic community, tribal leaders and members of local indigenous nations will contribute to the discussions. The dialogues focus on the struggle faced by native peoples to maintain sovereignty/political autonomy and cultural regeneration within larger dominant societies.

Admission is free and open to the general public . Attendants are asked to bring their own lunch if they will stay over the lunch hour due to our limited funding. Think of this like the old time depression era weddings!

Dialogue Participants:

Juana Domingo Andres -- Pican Ixim, the Maya community in Omaha. Andres is a Mayan Indian born in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Speaks her native language, Q'anjob'al, and has a teaching degree. She attended Jose Simeon Canas, a Jesuit university in El Salvador and Universidad Rafael Landivar another Jesuit School in Guatemala. She is chair of the executive team of Pixan Ixim, the Mayan Community in Omaha.

Frank Brennan, S.J. – Australian Catholic University.  Fr. Brennan is a professor of Law and has worked extensively in the area of indigenous rights in Austalia.  He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians in1995. He also received the inaugural ACFOA Human Rights Award in 1996.  

Marissa Begay Creighton University. Begay is a Navajo from Arizona and a sophomore at Creighton studying Biology, Pre-Med.  She serves as the president of RAISE (Recognizing American Indian Success in Education), a campus organization of Native students that mentor freshmen students and is the Secretary for NAA (Creighton's Native American Association).  

Raymond Bucko, S.J . – Creighton University. Dr. Bucko is chair of the Sociology/Anthropology Department and director of the Native American Studies Program. He is author of The Lakota Ritual of the Sweat Lodge (Univ. Nebraska Press 1998).

Adae Deer – Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Deer is the former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior. She is a nationally renowned Native rights leader, a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a member of the Menominee Nation.

Senator Aitor Esteban – University of Deusto. Sen. Estaban is a Basque member of the Spanish Parliament as well as an expert on comparative constitutional law and the position of ethnic minorities in modern states.

Heather Fryer – Creighton University. Fryer is associate professor of History and do-director of American Studies. She authored Perimeters of Democracy: Inverse Utopias and the Wartime Social Landscape in the American West and works on control of colonial populations and issues of Native American termination.

Michael Kelly – Creighton University. Kelly is a professor of International Law at the School of Law. He is the author of Ghosts of Halabja: Saddam Hussein & the Kurdish Genocide (Praeger 2008), and is an expert on comparative constitutional law.

Taylor Keen – Creighton University College of Business. Keen is a member of the Omaha and Cherokee Nations. He holds a Master’s degree in economics from Harvard University. His specialization is Nation-building and Native American corporate and economic development.

Adnan Kochar – ( C.H.A.K ) Centre of Halabja against Anfalization and Genocide of the Kurds. Kochar is the director of C.H.A.K. and the Halabja Centre, two NGOs based in London, England, which advocate on behalf of the Kurdish minority in Iraq. He is involved in the state government of Kurdistan.

Tracy Leavelle -- Creighton University.  Dr. Leavelle is associate professor of History and co-director of the American Studies Program at Creighton.  He is completing his first book, Colonial Conversions: Religious Encounters and Cultural Translation in French and Indian North America.  He is also examining conflicts between Native Hawaiians and astronomers over development on the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea.

Saw Lot – Creighton University. Lot is a Karen from Myanmar. He was forced out of Miramar in 1999 and spent five years on the Thai border in a refugee camp. He is a freshman at Creighton and continues to serve the Karen community in Omaha as a translator and general facilitator.

Abraham Lotha – St. Joseph’s College. Dr. Lotha is a Naga from the Nagaland region of India. He has recently completed his Ph.D., on Ethno-nationalism and the Naga. He is an expert on networking among Indigenous peoples, particularly within the United Nations.

Larry Nesper – University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Nesper is a cultural anthropologist who works in the areas of tribal law and treaty rights. He works extensively with the Ojibway court system in Wisconsin and published a book on Ojibway fishing rights in Wisconsin.

Richard Witmer – Creighton University. Dr. Witmer is an expert in Native Americans and American politics and policy development. His work focuses on American Indian/federal/state policy as well as political participation in the Forced Federalism era (1988-present). He is an associate professor in the department of Political Science and International Relations.


Opening Prayer and Welcoming to Omaha Territory

8:30 a.m.

Rudi Mitchell With Honor Song By David Buffalohead



8:45 a.m.

Rev. John Schlegel, S.J.

President, Creighton University



9 a.m.

Rev. Raymond Bucko, S.J. and Michael Kelly (organizers)


Orientation and Initial Statements

9:15-9:30 a.m.

Rev. Frank Brennan, S.J. (video)


Dialogue #1: Constitutional Status

9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.

Mike Kelly (moderator), Adnan Kochar, Sen. Aitor

Esteban, Abraham Lotha, Larry Nesper, Richard Witmer.


Open Dialogue

10:30-11 a.m.


Lunch - Keynote

11:30-12:30 p.m.

Ada Deer - Participants are invited to bring their lunch or

purchase food in the Harper Center. We will dine in the

comfort of the seminar room.


Dialogue #2: Cultural Survival

12:30-2 p.m.

Tracy Leavelle (moderator), Juana Domingo Andres, Arbraham

Lotha, Larry Nesper, Rudi Mitchell, Saw Lot, Marissa

Begay, Luis Marcos.


Open Dialogue 1:30-2 p.m.

Ending Prayer 2 p.m Fr. Ray Bucko


Closing Remarks 2:10 p.m. Rudi Mitchell


Opening Prayer

9 a.m. Rudi Mitchell

Summary of Day 1

9:15 a.m. Michael Kelly

Dialogue #3: Economic Development 9:30-11:15 a.m. Taylor Keen (moderator), Adnan Kochar, Sen. Aitor Esteban, Heather Fryer, Abraham Lotha, Rudi Mitchell, Richard Witmer.

Open Dialogue 10:55-11:30 a.m.

Lunch - Keynote 11:30-12:30 p.m Abraham Lotha -

Participants are invited to bring their lunch or purchase food in the Harper Center. We will dine in the comfort of the seminar room.

Dialogue #4: Political Participation 12:30-2 p.m. Rick Witmer (moderator), Michael Kelly, Sen. Aitor Esteban, Adnon Kochar, Larry Nesper, Ada Deer, Tracy Leavelle. (break at 1:45 -1:55 to facilitate faculty/ student access)

Open Dialogue 1:55-2:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks 2:30-3 p.m. Sen. Aitor Estaban

Closing Prayer and Blessing 3 p.m Rudi Mitchell with Spencer Gilpin