Welcoming new columnists John Mohawk, Kevin Gover, Carey Vicenti


This week, we welcome three outstanding new national columnists to our Perspectives section.

John Mohawk, the Seneca author whose occasional column debuts this week, is a long-time cherished and respected colleague. A professor of American Studies at State University of New York at Buffalo, John Mohawk's career spans the history of the contemporary movement by Native peoples. He was an early advocate for an independent Native American voice in the national discourse and of the awareness of culturally appropriate technologies and development for Native communities. Mohawk was as well one of the central architects of the movement to take Indian cases to the international arena.

John Mohawk was editor of Akwesasne Notes during the heyday of that newspaper's exemplary reporting on Indian issues during the 1970s and 1980s. He steered the flagship newspaper into a major vehicle of self-expression for the whole array of community leadership and emergent writers, covering and interacting with Native issues and cases throughout North America and ultimately Meso? and South American Indian nations. This seminal work helped to reawaken and activate indigenous peoples throughout the country. Known for his brilliant and incisive oratory, particularly among American Indian community audiences, Mohawk has been an international delegate for Haudenosaunee cases and a negotiator in community disputes. He is a life-long student of the Handsome Lake religion of the Seneca Longhouse. Mohawk's most recent book, Utopian Legacies, is an historical analysis of the many movements of "true believers" gone awry; he is also the principal author of "Basic Call to Consciousness," a collection of papers presented by the Haudenosaunee to the United Nations. Mohawk holds the Ph.D. in American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

We are also delighted to welcome Kevin Gover as a regular columnist. Mr. Gover, the former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. His practice focuses on federal law relating to Indians and on Indian tribal law. He was nominated for the position of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs by President Clinton in October 1997 and confirmed by the Senate one month later. During his three years in that position, Gover oversaw the operation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its programs, including those related to gaming, tribal recognition, trust assets, self-determination, water rights, tribal courts, law enforcement and education. He was responsible for a $2.2 billion budget, and had supervisory authority over both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Indian Education Programs and their approximately 10,000 employees. Gover also advised and reported directly to the Secretary of the Interior.

Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary, Gover practiced law for thirteen years in Washington, D.C. and Albuquerque, N.M., representing Indian tribal governments and tribal agencies. He has testified extensively before Congress and has written and spoken frequently on issues of law and policy involving Indian tribes.

Another new columnist we welcome to our pages is Carey N. Vicenti, a former Chief Judge of the Jicarilla Apache Tribal Court whose extensive duties in several tribal courts gives him a wide range of experience with legal and judicial systems in Indian country.

Judge Vicenti is a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation of northwest New Mexico. He is a graduate of Oregon State University, B.S., and of the University of New Mexico, School of Law.

While he served as a judge, he worked on congressional legislative initiatives affecting housing and the tribal courts. He is an advocate of building legal institutions based upon tribal tradition. His interest in cultural preservation and protection led him to organize the nine Apache tribes of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona into a joint agreement on repatriation. A Visiting Professor at Arizona State University, in the School of Justice Studies and the College of Law, Vicenti currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Sociology, at Fort Lewis College, in Durango, Colorado ? an institution that serves 700 American Indian students out of a student body of 4,200. As a professor there he teaches courses in Juvenile Delinquency, Native American Societies, Native American Justice, the Social Dimensions of Law and Policy and Indigenous Peoples of the World.

He has written on the use of traditional concepts of justice in the development of a new and emerging tribal jurisprudence. He served previously as a President of the Native American Bar Association. In addition to his teaching he sits as a judicial official in the following capacities: Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; Associate Justice of the Yavapai-Apache Nation Court of Appeals; Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona; and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Vicenti recently appeared on C-SPAN in an open forum with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Steven Breyer at the National Judicial College discussing recent Supreme Court decisions in Federal Indian law.

These three new columnists join ranks with our current outstanding national political and cultural commentators. Our editorial team is very proud of the gathering think-tank represented by the outstanding voices listed above. In addition, we always welcome guest columns from tribal leaders and others active in the Indian world. It all reflects Indian Country Today's deep commitment to provide our readership with a thorough, accurate, fair, sophisticated and well-documented range of perspectives on issues of national importance to tribal America.