New Michigan Tribal liaison guided by Seven Grandfather Teachings
Enbridge’s Brent Rush, senior advisor for Tribal Engagement in Michigan, talks with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal Elder Bill Vandegriff following a Wisdom Circle gathering near Enbridge facilities at the Straits of Mackinac. Wisdom Circles are gatherings which help elders create and maintain social connections.
Foundation for building relationships, collaboration
May 4, 2022
Communication, commitment, collaboration, community—four elements inspired by the Seven Grandfather Teachings steeped in Native American culture—drive Brent Rush.
Rush understands how those elements and teachings are pivotal to building relationships. The Enrolled Tribal Member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a federally recognized tribe of more than 36,000, now is the Enbridge Senior Advisor, Tribal Engagement in Michigan.
“I’m excited to be in Michigan, where I look forward to building new relationships and friendships,” said Rush.
For six years, Rush led community relations efforts and corporate giving across Enbridge’s operations in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Recognizing the absence of a full program tailored to Tribal outreach, Rush created one, working closely with Robert Williamson, committee member of Sac & Fox Nation in Stroud, OK.
Rush helped strengthen Enbridge’s grant programs to Tribal communities. He also introduced lunch-and-learn sessions to foster understanding within Enbridge of Tribal cultures and worked with Enbridge Human Resources to enhance recruitment and hiring of Native Americans.
“I am a resource for the Tribes,” said Rush, “and an advocate for their views within Enbridge. One of our biggest challenges in Michigan is re-opening lines of communication and providing accurate information to the Tribes. Working together, we can achieve positive outcomes.”
Among the positive steps Rush envisions is collaborating with the Tribes to engage them in various aspects of Enbridge operations of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.
“The Tribes have a strong understanding of the Straits,” said Rush. “I would like to work with them on cultural studies and surveys within the Straits, creating economic opportunities for the Tribes while gleaning additional understanding of the area.”
Embodying the Seven Grandfather Teachings—love, respect, bravery, truth, honesty, humility, and wisdom—that provide guidance in interactions with one another, Rush is eager to meet with the Michigan Tribes. He believes starting from a point of mutual agreement, such as safety, will help forge relationships.
“The Great Lakes Tunnel exemplifies safety,” said Rush. “It will enable us to continue to provide the energy people need while increasing environmental measures to protect the Straits. We also are focusing on renewable energy. The Tribes deserve to hear directly from us the many things we are doing, and we look forward to having a respectful, open and honest dialogue.”