Native Village
Youth and Education news
December 2009   Volume 3

AISES conference attracts America’s next young leaders
By Terri Hanson
Condensed by Native Village

Oregon:  More than 1,000 professionals and 500 enthusiastic students met in Portland for the 31st annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference. 

Despite the conference luminaries and professionals, the focus remained on students. Conroe Chino, Acoma Pueblo, called them "the cream of the crop, brilliant, smart, gifted.”

“You guys are my retirement plan,” said keynote speaker Winona LaDuke, director of White Earth Land Recovery Project.

As a world renown activist, LaDuke wants to get to a place where “we’re not always fighting bad ideas” like nuclear power plants, or blowing off mountain tops.  She offered solutions like tribal farms and a healthy food economy, localizing communities, and developing wind power on tribal lands.

“Together we have a chance to do the right thing. … what a wonderful opportunity you have.” LaDuke left the stage wrapped in a Pendleton blanket, a gift from AISES, while the audience gave her a standing ovation.

The AISES Council of Elders, along with Nez Perce elder and spiritual leader, Dr. Horace Axtell, offered the prayers and blessings. Retired NASA Astronaut John Herrington, Chickasaw, carried the Eagle Staff during the opening ceremony.

Daytime events included workshops, career development sessions, career exhibitors, and a tour of Portland State University and the Oregon Health & Science University.

Most students were expected to network and meet other students. "What I wasn’t expecting was the number of opportunities, like being able to interview different universities and agencies,” said Laura LaChusa, of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians in California. “It was just an amazing experience.”

 On the final evening, many students wore full regalia during the AISES powwow, despite the long distances many had to travel.

Susan Schrader from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was impressed. “This is the best corp experience I’ve ever had, anywhere,” she said.


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