When Carl J. Artman was in second grade, he watched the Watergate hearings on television.
“I saw the people whispering in the ears of the senators, and I knew I wanted to be one of those people,” he said.
Artman, who realized that dream of leadership in Washington, D.C., by becoming Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department’s Associate Solicitor for Indian Affairs, recently joined the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law as a professor and Director of the Economic Development in Indian Country Program.
Artman, an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, spent much of his childhood visiting relatives on the reservation. “I always knew I was an Indian growing up,” he said.
A self-defined “policy wonk,” Artman considered journalism, reading All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s description of reporting the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation.
But he also read the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke and the letters of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. And he learned that the Oneida Nation was one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which is said to have influenced the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. And that the tribe supplied corn that kept President Washington’s troops from starving at Valley Forge in 1777.
“I was honored to know that my tribe helped create what we have today,” he said.
And he chose the path of government service.
Artman has worked in policy-making on Capitol Hill, lobbied for his tribe, worked on business deals for the Oneida Nation, including a telecom business, developed a high-tech business and eventually became Chief Counsel for his tribe. After he left the Department of the Interior, Artman built an Indian law practice at Godfrey & Kahn in Milwaukee, Wisc.
“When I was in law school, there was not a lot of focus on Indian law,” Artman said. “I always thought I would end up in Indian Country, preferably working for my tribe, but I never felt compelled to follow a strict Indian law process.”
Instead, at Washington University School of Law, Artman focused on business and policy, and their intersection with law. He also earned an M.B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an LL.M. in Natural Resources and Environmental Law at the University of Denver.
“Everything I’ve done has crossed government, business, management and policy,” he said.
Artman said he began thinking about ASU after Dean Paul Schiff Berman approached him at a conference the Indian Legal Program organized in 2008 about Indian gaming, at which Artman was a presenter.
“I did a lot of research, looking at ASU’s philosophy under President Crow, his vision of the New American University and its entrepreneurship,” Artman said. “I knew that if I had the opportunity to work with students here, they would take what we worked on and translate it into something real.”
Artman said he also was attracted by the Indian Legal Program team, which he said he is proud to join.
“The impact they have leads to endless possibilities,” he said. “It’s readymade to help tribal leaders.”
In addition to teaching, one of Artman’s first projects is planning a national conference on tribal energy economies, which will be held March 25-26.
“It’s about the whole world of energy, coal, natural gas, oil, the whole gamut, spanning all the way to alternative and renewable energies and beyond,” Artman said. “Many tribes are just tapping into their natural resources, and we’ll look at a strategic plan to promote investment and turn them into truly sustainable economies.
“We’ll look at the issues from 10,000 feet, but also in detail. I want tribal leaders – government, business, legal, chiefs of staff – to walk out saying, ‘That was inspirational. I learned what other people are thinking on the subject. There were partners and stakeholders who spoke with us.’ I want it to be a true exchange of ideas.”
Artman’s wife, Wendy, is a senior public relations manager with GroundFloor Media, based in Denver, and they have two young sons.