Negotiating a Future:Indigenous leadership through the ages

In addition to the recording of the briefing below, you will find a range of supplemental resources to deepen your understanding of Indigenous leadership, leaders, and communities, including the tribes of our speakers.

Negotiating a Future: Indigenous leadership through the ages

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

In the mid-1800s, many Northwest tribes signed treaties to reserve an area of their traditional homeland for their perpetual use. Using the Walla Walla Treaty Council as the setting, Roberta “Bobbie” Conner (Nez Perce/Cayuse) will explore the circumstances and significance of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s Treaty of 1855. What happened at the Treaty Council? Who was there? What was said? And, most important of all, what did tribal leaders of the 1850s have to consider and negotiate to ensure a future for their people? Next, W. Ron Allen (Jamestown S’Klallam) will discuss the challenges Indigenous leaders have faced over time, the current issues, and what the future might hold for tribal nations.

“This was extremely educational. As an Indigenous person myself, I gained so much from that hour.” – Negotiating a Future Briefing attendee

Transcript | Download

Recommended resources


Roberta (Bobbie) Conner – Interviews with the Confluence Project
(The river Bobbie refers to in these videos is the Columbia River, one of the great waterways of the North American continent, or Turtle Island, and the home of Indigenous peoples since the beginning of time.)
Intestinal Fortitude (2019) (2:24)
American Policies of Divide and Conquer (2019) (1:35)
The Extinguishing of Property Rights (2019) (1:42)

Rethinking the legacy of missionary Marcus Whitman to memorialize his “actual story.”
KIRO 7 (October 16, 2021)


Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Homelands |

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation |
CTUIR GIS Department

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Usual & Accustomed Ground & Stations |


The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation |
Colin G. Calloway (2018). Oxford University Press.

Wiyaxayxt / Wiyaakaa’awn / As Days Go By: Our History, Our Land, Our People—The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla. |
Edited by Jennifer Carson (2006). University of Washington Press. 

Cáw Pawá Láakni / They Are Not Forgotten: Sahaptian Place Names Atlas of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla |
Eugene S. Hunn (2015). Tamástslikt Cultural Institute.

Treaty of Point No Point, 1855 |

Treaty of Walla Walla, 1855 |

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific, Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants |
Robin Wall Kimmerer (2015). Milkweed Editions.


Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation |

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe |

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute |

Native Land Information System |

Tribal Treaties Database, Oklahoma State University |

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe House of Seven Generations Educational Resources |

Oregon Legislative Commission on Indian Services |

Oregon Senate Bill 770 |
A state-tribal government-to-government relations law, the first in the U.S.

Washington Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs |

Making a difference

Please learn more about and consider financially supporting the following nonprofits Bobbie and Ron champion:

Jamestown Dungeness River Audubon Center
Sequim, WA |

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute
Pendleton, OR |

Nixyáawii Community Financial Services
Pendleton, OR |

About the speakers

“Native people were not merely victims of colonialism. They have taken agency over their fate since that time, and continue to do so.” – Roberta “Bobbie” Conner

Roberta “Bobbie” Conner is the executive director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, the award-winning museum and research institute of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. Bobbie is a leader in the national museum community, a noted historian, and committed horsewoman. She was the 2007 ILA Awardee.

“Tribal nations are thriving in many instances, and can be, will be, a model to the rest of the country for societal, environmental, economic health.” – W. Ron Allen

W. Ron Allen is the CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, which is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. He is a past president of the National Congress of American Indians and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. Ron has served on numerous federal and state advisory boards, covering a multitude of issues important to Native peoples. Ron was the 2005 ILA Awardee.

Top image: Map of the Oregon Territory. (Source: New York: J.H. Young: Sherman & Smith, (1844). Images of the briefings speakers, courtesy of the speakers.