In March 2006…

Danielle Gaines and Susan White attended a conference in Washington, D.C. called ‘Hear Our Story: Communications and Contemporary Native Americans.’ They did not know each other at the time.

The conference offered a few break-out sessions where the focus was on media and communications. During one of the sessions, panelists were discussing collaboration and strengthening positive representation of Native Americans in the media. Questions were raised by attendees. Danielle asked, “In the spirit of collaboration, is there anything we can do here and now? Is there a project we can commit to and work on together”? Immediately the panel moderator shut it down stating that there would need to be someone to volunteer to lead and manage such an initiative. Danielle said, “I volunteer.” The moderator then announced to the group, “Anyone interested in doing something, please see the lady in the back” (Danielle). At the end of the session, 18 people handed Danielle their business cards. One of those people was Susan White.

Connecting

In the weeks following, Danielle put together an email distribution list of those 18 people and initiated a dialog. The question was asked as to what project this new group should start with. Two or three people suggested different things, including a Leonard Peltier platform [Link to: Leonard Peltier website] and a list of “Indian-friendly” corporations. Danielle suggested an essay contest. Her reasoning was this – an essay contest was an easy way to reach a lot of kids who could then enlist the support of their parents and teachers. It was a great way to reach a broad audience. So, the group moved forward with an essay contest and Reconnecting The Circle was born.

Some people of that original group of 18 participated, but only 4 people of that original group have stayed on and become involved more deeply.

Susan is RTC’s Vice President. Danielle is RTC’s President. Jessica LePak and Jerry Briscoe were formerly on the Advisory Board.