Robert Odawi Porter is an innovative and results-driven attorney, scholar and political leader who has devoted his professional career to advancing the rights of sovereign American Indian nations and tribes in the United States. A citizen of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Rob was raised in the Nation’s Allegany Territory and earned his education from Syracuse University and Harvard Law School. He served two terms as Seneca chief legal counsel, as founding chairman of Seneca Holdings LLC, and, in 2010, was elected as the Seneca Nation’s 67th President. He has served as a tenured law professor at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, and Syracuse University, and written numerous academic articles on tribal law and governance and a book, “Sovereignty, Colonialism, and the Indigenous Nations; A Reader.”
A proven advocate, Rob has served a lead role in major conflicts with the U.S. federal and state governments to protect tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, including efforts to stop New York State from taxing Seneca commerce and lobbying for the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, which ended the practice of IRS auditing of Indians for benefits received from their tribal governments.
As I see it, ‘sovereignty’ as applied to Indigenous nations simply means freedom, the freedom of a people to choose what their future will be.