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The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and its sister organization, the Native Nations Institute (NNI) at the University of Arizona, were presented with the Public Sector Leadership Award by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in Washington D.C. on March 1. NCAI is the national association of American Indian nation governments and recognized the programs for their “groundbreaking research and technical assistance in partnership with and for the benefit of Native nations.”
Founded in 1987 by Professor Joseph Kalt of Harvard Kennedy School and Professor Steven Cornell, now at the University of Arizona and NNI, the Harvard Project is recognized for its pathbreaking research aimed at understanding and fostering the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations. The Project was instrumental in the launching the Native Nations Institute in 2001. Together, the two organizations provide research, advisory services, executive education, and policy analysis. The Harvard Project also administers an internationally-acclaimed tribal governance awards program, Honoring Nations, which shines a bright light on achievement in local governance and fosters replication of successful programs and policies.
At the heart of the work of the Harvard Project is the recognition that governance plays a critical role in providing the necessary scaffolding to sustain prosperous societies. Kalt stresses that much of the Project’s findings are founded on its constant “on the ground” engagement, noting that “the Project has conducted hundreds of research studies and advisory projects in partnership with and for the benefit of Native nations. This field work has been invaluable to us and, we hope, Native leaders and managers.”
The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development is housed within the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.