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Osage doctorate student selected for Fall 2022 ASU Indigenous Leadership Academy

Elise Blasingame is a third-year PhD student and researcher at the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia, focusing on Native American Politics

An Osage graduate student seeking her doctorate is among those selected for the Fall 2022 Indigenous Leadership Academy at Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute.

Elise Blasingame is a third-year Ph.D. student and researcher at the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia, focusing on Native American Politics. She also served as an Osage Minerals Council summer graduate intern where she worked on communications, strategic planning and data sovereignty projects.

In announcing the Fall 2022 cohort of students attending the AIPI’s Indigenous Leadership Academy, an ASU news release stated: “With a focus on emerging leaders, there has never been a leadership program like this before in the country. Twenty-seven of 52 applicants have been accepted into the cohort, representing 15 tribes represented from eight states and Washington D.C. All participants demonstrated a strong passion for working with and for Indigenous communities. Some topics that the participants are passionate about are Behavioral health, broadband, civic engagement, education, healthcare, MMIWP, and youth just to name a few.”

Blasingame said she spent more than a decade working in state politics and nonprofit organizations before starting her PhD studies. “I am most passionate about increasing the representation of Native voices, specifically elected and appointed positions, within the American political system –all toward the goal of protecting and enhancing tribal sovereignty. I am very interested in Native power building, coalition work, lobbying and examining how increased representation can improve outcomes for Native people in the courts, legislatures, and through government agencies,” she said.

When asked why Blasingame applied for the academy cohort, she said: “I am actively looking for opportunities to be in community with other emerging leaders from across Native communities. My research agenda is very action-oriented and meant to serve the interests of multiple tribal communities. As such, the more I can partner with and learn from folks from across tribes – the stronger my understanding will be, and as a result, the more useful the tools I create will be for advocates. I’ve been privileged to meet the handful of Native scholars working in my field, political science, but there is absolutely a deficit here. We’re quite underrepresented, as we are in many fields. Because of this, I have made a concerted effort to find opportunities such as the ASU Indigenous Leadership Academy to grow my network of potential partners and allies. Specifically, I find the policy analysis and capacity-building efforts from ASU AIPI to be in line with what I hope to do more broadly.”

Thus far while in the academy program, Blasingame said she worked on a Sept. 13 analysis article for the Washington Post titled “What Mary Peltola’s win in Alaska may mean for Indian country,” referring to the first Alaska Native to serve and the first Alaskan Democrat to serve in the U.S. House since 1972 after winning a special election earlier this year to fill a vacant seat and she will appear on the November 2022 ballot seeking a full term.

“I recently finished a project where I reviewed the policy decisions of Native women elected to state legislatures (2018-2021) illuminating the important contributions these legislators make to ‘Indigenizing’ state politics. This will be published as a book chapter,” Blasingame added.

In describing her academy experience so far, Blasingame said: “I greatly respect the folks in my cohort and the great work they do, so it’s been an honor to learn from them. The AIPI staff have been incredibly supportive and have developed a very strong curriculum with excellent speakers from across Indian Country. I would highly recommend other Osages consider applying to future cohorts. This was the first-year folks from outside of Arizona could apply, so I am the first Osage to participate, but hopefully not the last! You also do not need to be an academic to participate – most folks are not researchers, but are working for their tribal governments or in national organizations focused on Native rights … I owe the (Osage Nation) Education Department and the Minerals Council a great deal of thanks for the support and guidance they have provided.”

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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