Tribal Leader / Scholar Forum

The NCAI Policy Research Center’s 13th Annual Tribal Leader Scholar Forum Call for Proposals is NOW OPEN! The Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum provides an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, community members, and others to present their findings to tribal leaders, policymakers, and tribal members during NCAI's Mid Year Conference. 

Our theme for the 2018 Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum is Lighting the Way: New Paths from Research to Policy. This theme reflects the desire to shed light on future directions for policy in a way that is deeply informed by research and data in the context of tribal cultures and values. The Forum will take place on June 5, 2018 in Kansas City, MO. 

CLICK HERE for the Call for Proposals and Sample Submission Template.

2017 Conference Proceedings Now Available!

Click here to read the Tribal Leader Scholar Forum Fact Sheet

Click on the session titles below to download PDFs of the presentations!

For more information about the Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum and how to engage in future gatherings, please contact the Policy Research Center team at Conference proceedings from prior years are archived below.

The NCAI Policy Research Center’s Annual Tribal Leader Scholar Forum provides an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, community members, and others to present their findings to tribal leaders, policymakers, and tribal members during NCAIs’ Mid Year Conference. Research presentations focus on areas that have or could have real impacts for tribal communities. The Forum presents tribal leaders with innovative research methods and relevant findings for local and national policymaking. A unique component of this forum is the dialogue between tribal representatives and researchers. These relationships are especially important given that data drives community planning and that the policy environment demands evidence-based justification as part of funding requests and grant applications.

The Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum is also distinctive because a scholar is acknowledged as more than one individual or team from a research institution who has visited a tribal community for a brief period of time and is inclusive of community-based researchers. The Forum has featured work by tribal leaders, tribally-based researchers, community members using program or other data to advance policy or develop research projects, university-based researchers, students, and agency partners. We welcome those with a demonstrated commitment to Native people whose insights can inform the development of effective policy and meaningful research.

The first Tribal Leader Scholar Forum was held in 2006, and the NCAI Policy Research Center continues to incorporate the unique contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives to science, education, economic development, and an array of other priority areas. Since the first national forum in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan the Forum has grown from 10 presenters to over 60 presenters.

Inside the Forum
The Forum usually takes place on the second or third day of NCAI’s Mid Year Conference.Typically, one panel is featured on the main stage as part of the morning’s General Assembly Session. Following General Assembly presentations, two tribal leaders respond to the cross-cutting themes of the panel and share their insights. Tribal leaders and others in the audience are then invited to raise questions and engage with the panel.

A lunchtime Poster Session was added at the 7th and 8th Annual Forums and features the work of emerging scholars and program initiatives by tribal and Native-serving organizations. 

Afternoon breakout sessions feature presentations across a number of topics that connect to the Forum theme and allow for deeper engagement between tribal leaders and researchers.

Occasionally, the NCAI Policy Research Center will host a Pre-Meeting Session for partner organizations and other interested participants that features research presentations.

Call for Proposals
At the end of each year, the NCAI Policy Research Center sends out a Call for Proposals, describing the upcoming Forum theme and detailing proposal requirements. Proposals are usually due in late February/early March. Most recent themes have emphasized the work of tribes to use research to plan for change and to exercise their sovereignty. The Forum prioritizes presentations that identify how current research can lead to policy priorities that have benefit for Native communities. In the past, the NCAI Policy Research Center has called for presentations using the following formats:

  • Panel proposal: Proposals can include up to four presenters discussing a topic of significance to the Forum Theme from different regional, institutional, disciplinary, or policy perspectives. Presentations should feature research and data, discuss key links between research and policy, and/or advance policy discussions by using research and data. This format is different from the ‘Individual Paper’ proposal format because presenters propose a pre-formed group of panelists rather than have NCAI arrange the panel from separate proposals. Panel proposals are not suitable for workshops or trainings. 
  • Individual Paper proposal: Proposals feature insights from a research or policy paper that has significance to the Forum theme. Selected proposals will be grouped as part of a panel by the NCAI reviewers.
  • Research Planning Roundtable proposal: This format is most suitable to discuss topics that may not have a great deal of current research available or where research may be stalled for specific reasons. Proposals can include up to four presenters and a particular set of objectives the session will help address related to the Forum theme, which may include goals related to developing a research agenda, coordinating data collection efforts, addressing research obstacles, and/or developing culturally-relevant concepts for research. This format is not suitable for researchers to propose to collect data at these sessions.
  • Poster proposal: Proposals can highlight completed or ongoing research with significance to the Forum theme. This format is most suitable for students, colleges and universities, and community programs to share information on their efforts and programs. 

Presenters are responsible to cover travel, hotel, and registration costs. While students are encouraged to submit proposals, unfortunately at this time there are no NCAI scholarship funds to support their travel or costs. Selected presenters may be asked to participate in teleconferences before the conference to coordinate with others on their panels and receive support from NCAI staff about how best to prepare a presentation for tribal leaders. Selected presenters will be asked to submit electronic versions of final papers, poster files, and/or PowerPoint presentations to NCAI as part of Forum proceedings.

Guidelines for Presenters 

Forum Archives
The Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum is featured annually at the NCAI Mid Year Conference. Past Forum Themes include: