Andrew Lee ’94 discusses the state of Native American tribes – News


Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Andrew Lee ’94 discussed the sovereignty of Native American nations and why some succeed while others struggle on September 10.

Lee’s academic journey in Hamilton began in earnest when he met Professor Cheng Li while taking international relations in his sophomore year. “I couldn’t understand a word from Professor Cheng Li,” Lee recalls, “but my parents told me,” You have to learn to adapt. ” Cheng Li had two pieces of advice for Lee: transform yourself as a student and think about public service. He took Lee under his wing and provided him with mentorship and motivation.

Hamilton can transform a student and open your eyes. Hamilton is the kind of place that can change your life for the better.

“Prof. Li would call at 7:30 am on Sunday morning to ask if I was studying,” Lee recalls. At first, waking up in the morning seemed hard, but soon enough Lee started to wake up early on his own and his work ethic. “Hamilton can transform a student and open their eyes. Hamilton is the kind of place that can change your life for the better,” Lee said.

After Hamilton, Professor Cheng Li helped Lee find a scholarship at Harvard, which led him to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he earned his master’s degree in public policy. Since then, Lee has held a plethora of leadership positions in fields ranging from healthcare and philanthropy to Native American affairs and economic development.

Lee spoke with Hamilton students on September 10 on Native Americans Today. “American Indians are alive,” Lee began. He identified some of the obstacles that Native American tribes face as they develop their sovereignty and improve economic outcomes on reserves.

Indian tribes are nations and have powers much like sovereign states,” Lee said. He examined how tribes who approach economic development through sovereign nation building find it easier to create independent institutions and organize tribal resources.

Lee ended his lecture with three tips for future Hamilton leaders:

  • Familiarize yourself with public speaking
  • Start sitting on the boards as soon as you can
  • Leaders have a responsibility to look back seven generations and think about how your decisions will affect people in seven generations.
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