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Conference Explores Influence of Tribal Governments

UC Riverside Conference Explores American Indian Policy Issues

The Center for California Native Nations Hosts Symposium at UCR Palm Desert

(June 17, 2005)

PALM DESERT ( -- UC Riverside will host a conference Thursday June 23 and Friday, June 24 in Palm Desert to explore the growing influence of tribal governments in public policy decisions.

The symposium will include panel discussions with representation from tribal leadership and local government officials. It is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Education building at UCR-Palm Desert, 75-080 Frank Sinatra Drive.

“We want to explore the ways that American Indian tribal governments are increasingly assuming joint responsibility with local, state and federal governments for public policy decisions that affect the quality of life in the area,” said Kate Spilde Contreras, a visiting scholar at UC Riverside with training in anthropology.

“Tribal leaders and representatives of other governments will discuss the implications of relationship-building for both tribal communities and their neighbors, to explore new ways to formalize partnerships, and to re-frame tribal sovereignty in the public debates around jurisdiction and land use,” she said.

In addition to her role with UCR, Spilde Contreras is a Research Fellow with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, and has a deep familiarity with issues surrounding tribal gaming. In Washington, D.C., she has worked as a research analyst for the National Congress of American Indians/Bureau of Indian Affairs; a director of research for the National Indian Gaming Association; and a policy analyst for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.

“I see my role here at UC Riverside as someone who can help connect the needs of local tribes to the expertise already here at UC Riverside,” she said. “I am convinced that Riverside, because of its location, is the appropriate place to study California’s Indian tribes.”

Spilde Contreras grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota where her parents were teachers. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She holds memberships in the American Anthropological Association, the American Ethnological Society, the Society of Cultural Anthropology, and the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists.

UC Riverside is near neighbor to more than 30 federally recognized tribes and California Indians helped found the campus and established its first academic chair. The campus offers one of only two Ph.D. programs in American Indian History in the nation. Other institutional resources include the Rupert Costo Library of American Indian History, one of the largest collections of research materials relating to Native Americans in the nation, and the proposed Center for California Native Nations.

Additional information is available via email at, or via phone at 951-827-4365


Thursday, June 23, 2005

4 p.m. Welcome Reception at Morongo Casino in the Old Poker Room
Kate Spilde Contreras, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar, Center for California Native Nations

5 p.m. Book Signing: Prof. Charles Wilkinson, University of Colorado, Author of Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations

6 p.m. Dinner on your own

Friday, June 24, 2005

7:45 to 8:20 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast at UCR Palm Desert

8:20 to 8:30 a.m. Blessing by Joe Benitez, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians

8:30 to 8:45 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks
Joel Martin, Dean, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Co-director, California Center for Native Nations

8:45 to 10 a.m. Panel: Federal Policies and Devolution: Can Tribal Governments and Local Governments get Along? Speakers include Richard Milanovich, Chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Allen Lawson, Chairman, San Pasqual tribe; Tracy Nelson, Chairman, La Jolla tribe;
and John Wohlmuth, Executive Director, Coachella Valley Association of Governments, Palm Desert, CA.

10 to 10:45 a.m. Panel: Creating Partnerships between the Center for California Native Nations and California Tribal Governments. Speakers include Gloria Gonzalez-Rivera, professor of economics, UCR; Mindy Marks, assistant professor of economics; and Joel Martin, co-director, Center for California Native Nations, UCR.

10:45 to 11 a.m. Break

11 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Panel: Best Practices in Tribal Policy Making:
Institution Building and the Tribal Public
Speakers include Deron Marquez, Chairman, San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians,Robert Salgado, Chairman, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians
and Michael Lombardi, Chairman, Augustine Gaming Commission

12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Lunch and Keynote Address
Anthony Miranda, Chairman, California Nations
Indian Gaming Association,

1:45 to 2 p.m. Conference Wrap-Up and Conclusion
Kate Spilde Contreras, conference organizerEnlarge

Kate Spilde Contreras, conference organizer

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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