On July 20th the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation filed a civil rights action in federal court against the state of New Jersey. The case was brought forward because the Christie administration was attempting to rescind the State recognition of the tribe whose recognition has been established since 1980 and 1982. A key issue of the case is that the State may be motivated by an irrational, stereotype-driven prejudice of an Indian casino, despite the Tribe’s charter explicitly prohibiting gaming. Representing the Tribe and joining us today is Greg Werkheiser. Together we will discuss the intricacies of the case and the legal processes used to protect Tribe’s identities in the United States.
Greg’s passion for history was a childhood gift from his uncle, who led Greg on adventures into the deep woods and caves of the northeast United States to discover mysterious remnants of complex ancient cultures not found in his school textbooks. Years later, soon after Greg began his legal career as a litigator for what would become the world’s largest law firm, his uncle called Greg at his desk near midnight. Could Greg take on a case pro bono for an American Indian tribe seeking to protect from imminent destruction a sacred site with a 10,000 year archaeological record of their peoples’ lives? The rest was history and his law firm Cultural Heritage Partners.
For fifteen years Greg has worked to change law, policy, and business strategy to help preserve the lessons of our diverse history for use by modern leaders in building a better shared future for us all.
Indeed, Greg has enjoyed a vibrant parallel career as a social entrepreneur designing new ways to prepare tomorrow’s leaders. He has served as founding director of four of the top leadership development centers in the U.S.
- The Presidio Institute, launching a $200 million federally sponsored center for cross-sector leadership at historic Fort Scott overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge;
- The Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason University, modeling social innovation education strategies for universities globally;
- The Phoenix Project, developing social entrepreneurs on the streets of America’s poorest communities to address joblessness, schools, health, and violence; and
- The University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership youth civic education programs, building bipartisan public service academies.
Greg’s work in cultural heritage law and policy, leadership development, politics, and civil rights has appeared in more than 1,000 media pieces, including the New York Times, Time magazine, and NPR.