Next Generation Leadership Project partners with Washington University in Missouri


HONOLULU – The Washington University in St. Louis School of Law has partnered with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, a Hawaii nonprofit, to host law students in Hawaii. They will spend a semester researching and working on projects to advance Native rights and economic development.

The partnership is made possible through funding from the G.A. Jr., and Kathryn M. Buder Charitable Foundation and CNHA’s Next Generation Leadership Program. WUSL Professor Steven Gunn teaches Indian law at the university and is an expert on the federal trust relationship between the federal government and Native peoples.

“We are simply thrilled to host students from Washington University to work on Native policy and legislative initiatives that advance economic development in Native Hawaiian communities,” said Robin Puanani Danner, CNHA president and CEO. “The work of Professor Gunn and his students in the body of law that specifically focuses on Native rights is particularly timely. We welcome the law students and will definitely engage them with our policy work, as well as with local law students at UH M?noa.”

Gunn is an adjunct professor of law and the director for the American Indian Law Externship Program at WUSTL, which provides law students the opportunity to spend the summer living and working on Indian reservations and in Native communities in the United States.

“Law students who are accepted into this program do substantive legal work on tribal issues and have opportunities to work on litigation, advocacy and policy development,” Gunn said. “They gain an understanding of the unique and distinctive legal issues facing tribes and have the opportunity to contribute to the protection and advancement of Native governments and ways of life.”

“One of the projects that immediately comes to mind is the Native 8(a) Program. The students can research how this federal business program for tribes, Alaska Native corporations and Native Hawaiian organizations impact local economies,” Danner said. “We know that the Native 8(a) is important to our local, state and national economies, but with the law students, it would be very interesting and powerfully important to examine how the Native 8(a) program fits into federal Indian law, and the trajectory of federal trust policy over the last five decades.”

The Next Generation Leadership project is administered by CNHA and is the result of a national Declaration of Unity among Native Hawaiians, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Its primary goals are to create opportunities for young leaders to engage in Native issues, community development and public policy.

CNHA is a member-based nonprofit organization serving a network of more than 100 organizations statewide and nationally. CNHA’s mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic and community development of Native Hawaiians. For more information about CNHA, call (808) 596-8155, toll-free at (800)709-2642, by e-mail at, or visit the Web site.