ASU’S American Indian Policy Institute announces merger with Watts College

Sept. 26, 2019


Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


One Arizona State University policy think tank on issues concerning American Indians, made an announcement on joining a college within the  university. During an announcement at the Heard Museum Steele Auditorium in Phoenix, the ASU American Indian Policy Institute announced their merger into the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions on Sept. 26.


According to an AIPI press release, “We are thrilled to be joining forces with the Watts College,” said, Traci Morris AIPI Director. She said the merger brings an added opportunity to combine the institutes expertise on tribal policy with the Watts College.


AIPI board president Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said, “It is a special collaboration between the American Indian Policy Institute and Watts College, that is being made to pay tribute and respect to Native nations that are still here.”


He said the move acknowledges the tremendous opportunities for AIPI to connect with policymakers in Washington D.C. “There is a real commitment to tribes across the nation, because for too long, federal policy has always been decided for them,” said Lewis.


Lewis said, “That is why it is important to have policy drivers, like AIPI to come up with innovative solutions at the tribal level and bring them to the state and federal level.”


Jonathan Koppell, Dean of Watts College, lauded the inclusion of AIPI into the college. “We are going to do fantastic work together,” said Koppell in the press release. He said the colleges’ values and foundation are a good fit for AIPI, because they strive to promote social justice among all walks of life.


After Gov. Lewis’ keynote address, a discussion panel was held, narrated by Mark Trahant, who joined the Cronkite School of Journalism this summer. The transition to ASU, also brought on-board Indian Country Today, which features stories from tribal communities across the nation.


Guest panelists included, Geoff Blackwell of Amerid Risk, Patti Hibbeler from the Phoenix Indian Center, Matthew Rantanen of the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association and VaRene Martinez from the Native American Finance Officers Association.