Emily Bass - American University


Emily’s studies and her co-curricular leadership and organizing activities while at American University have exemplified her commitment to creating a culture of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus and across communities. Her leadership and passion specifically in the areas of environmental stewardship, environmental advocacy, tribal sovereignty, and advocation for and learning from Indigenous communities illustrate a commitment to these values, especially cultural humility.

-Ms. Sylvia M. Burwell
President, American University

My name is Emily Bass and ever since moving to Washington, DC, the incredible lack of awareness, education, and advocacy around Indigenous issues has motivated every aspect of my work. To me, it was astonishing that in our nation’s capital, the heart of federal-Indigenous relations, our young people are not aware and are not being taught about the hundreds of Indigenous Nations in this country - many are not aware that there are any. With that in mind, one aspect of my work is to provide educational and action-based opportunities for students and faculty to learn about this history, the crimes committed by the state, and our responsibility for reconciliation.

To this end, I have led two semester-long programs to help educate fellow students on this history and the contemporary realities of settler colonialism for Indigenous communities across the United States and Canada. My participants and I have engaged with over a dozen community leaders who work on issues ranging from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives, tribal governance, environmental stewardship, and more.

At American University, I have spent months advocating for the incorporation of Indigenous literature in class curriculum, reinstating the Washington Internships for Native Students program, and the creation of a scholarship for students hoping to work in the field of federal-Indigenous law and policy. In conjunction with this, pushing for the adoption of a formal land acknowledgment has been foundational to advancing mutual understanding on the importance of inclusion on campus.

Whether in school or beyond, I will strive to serve as the best possible ally to Indigenous people as an educator and policymaker to uphold my ancestors’ side of this nation’s numerous broken treaty promises. Working with the fellowship’s network of leaders will help me build the skills necessary to advance my advocacy for justice for Indigenous people.

Emily Bass

2022-23 TMA Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellow