Gov. Lewis Shares Tribal Leadership Experience with Policy Students at Grand Canyon University’s ‘Public Square’ Series


Velia Moncada 

Gila River Indian News


On Oct. 16, Governor Stephen Roe Lewis served as a guest speaker at a public square series event hosted by the Canyon Civic Institute at Grand Canyon University (GCU). As a university initiative to promote civic engagement and encourage students to pursue a career in public policy.


“We are so honored to have him on campus,” said Tristan John-Jandles, student legal assistant and the leader of the Canyon Civic Institute at GCU, introducing the Gila River Indian Community’s Governor to the GCU undergraduate class of public policy and law students. 


“It’s an honor to be here,” said Gov. Lewis as he stood before a student-filled classroom on the GCU campus. He shared topics ranging from the Community’s cultural background, GRIC’s military history, GRIC’s tribal gaming and enterprises, and the Community’s constitutional government, along with describing his own personal and professional background as a leader in tribal government and the fight for GRIC’s water rights. 


“It’s important for me as a tribal, Indigenous leader to present in front of the future leaders as it is important to hear the stories of the Indigenous nations and tribes as we continue to make a mark in sustainability and resiliency for the future,” said Gov. Lewis. 


Afterwards, students were encouraged to ask Gov. Lewis questions relating to the students’ interest in public policy. Students listened attentively to his responses and advice for their future reference. Questions ranged widely as many were curious about how Gov. Lewis felt for the Community, his experience representing GRIC at President Biden’s State of the Union address in Washington, and his understanding of what tools and resources were most helpful in protecting tribal lands. 


Lauren Baker asked Gov. Lewis regarding his sentiments on resourceful tools in protecting tribal lands. Baker is a student studying government with an emphasis in legal studies and a minor in philosophy. She is also a fellow for the Canyon Civic Institute and native to O’ahu, Hawaii. 


Baker said, “What I learned from Gov. Lewis is the importance of natural resources, the importance of honoring those who came before you, as well as bringing awareness to native rights and native law and it’s just great having a meaningful conversation with someone who is influential and someone who is protecting native rights.”