Austin, Crepelle & Ernest Sickey’s School for Wards and Domestic Dependent Nations (“The ACES School”) is a 100% Native-owned, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded by Joseph Austin (Navajo Nation), Adam Crepelle (United Houma), and Ernest Sickey (Coushatta), all of whom have lived and worked on reservations.
The ACES School was established for the purpose of educating Native Nations, Native people, and folks of all walks of life on the issues affecting Indian Country. Our approach to education is more than just conferences, workshops, and presentations; it’s about reminding Native Nations and Native people that most of the solutions to their problems are already within themselves—their language, culture, identity, songs, prayers, and ceremonies. Together, these elements within Native Nations comprise what we know as sovereignty, and when Native Nations exercise that sovereignty, whether it be in law, education, healthcare etc., they control their future. Exercising sovereignty is exercising self-determination. The age of protection is falling to way side; the age of empowerment is already upon Indian Country.
A wise man named Raymond Austin, Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, once said, “When Native people start thinking like Native people again, all our problems will be solved.” We believe and know the same to be true. With language comes culture, and with culture comes a new way of thinking, the Native way of thinking. That’s what we need to prosper and rebuild as Native Nations.
Of course, the Native way of thinking is only one side of the coin. The other side is navigating the modern advancements of nationhood: economic development; legislative reform; governance structure; court reform etc. The ACES School teaches this ideology to its “students,” and together we come up with practical solutions that Native Nations can implement in their pursuit of nationhood. One of the things that the founders pride themselves on is their theory that economic development in Indian Country lacks one crucial aspect--international trade. This theory of economic development has been the foundation of the ACES School's premier conference, "All Roads Lead to Chaco Canyon."
At the ACES School, we believe that education is the tool that should be used in solving the issues that Native Nations and Native people face. It's one thing to sit, listen, and walk away from a conference and go back to your everyday life without thinking twice about what you heard. It's quite another to sit, listen, engage, and walk away from an event thinking, wondering, and then discussing possible solutions with your colleagues back at the office.
The ACES School is everything you expected but never got from a conference, workshop, presentation, or event. We are dramatic; we give tough love; we say the things you think; we call it what it is; but most importantly, we know our stuff better than anyone! So come out and join us at one of our events! We hope to see you there, and when we do, we hope you’ll become a student of the ACES School!