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Photo by Clayton Cotterell

Ashlee Fox ’19


Hometown: Bartlesville, Oklahoma

How Reed changed me: Reed taught me to think critically and question incessantly. But more than that, Reed expanded my world and gave me access to unparalleled opportunities—to travel the world, to study at world-renowned institutions, to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become. 

Financial aid: I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to receive an education I never dreamed possible due to the generous support I received.  

Thesis adviser: Prof. Noelwah Netusil [economics]

Thesis: Sovereignty and Self-Governance in Indian Country:  Applying a Law and Economics Framework to Carpenter v. Murphy

What it’s about: Carpenter v. Murphy is a pending United States Supreme Court case that will determine whether or not Indian reservations exist in Oklahoma. My thesis applies a law and economics lens to argue—and demonstrate empirically—that tribes are the best maximizers of the welfare and well-being of their citizens, and as such, the Supreme Court should affirm the sovereignty of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation by finding that the tribe’s reservation still exists.

What it’s really about: Tribes are sovereign nations. Act like it.

In high school: I spent my high-school years entrenched in Oklahoma politics and tribal politics. By the time I got to Reed, I was eager to change the world. I met with President Obama in Durant, Oklahoma, to discuss the importance of tribal language revitalization efforts. I traveled to Washington, DC, twice during my senior year, as a White House Tribal Nations youth ambassador and in my capacity as president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council, to attend the White House Tribal Youth Gathering. 

Influential professors: Prof. Noelwah Netusil inspired me to dream big, do meaningful work, and use economics for the greater good. Prof. miishen Carpentier [anthropology] taught me to think and engage critically, especially when it comes to imagining different futures, legalities, and sovereignties in Indian Country. I’ll forever be indebted to him.

Influential book: Red Skins, White Masks by Glen Coulthard.

Concept that blew my mind: We’re all just chasing incentives, for better or for worse.

Cool stuff: I founded American Indians at Reed; was a Truman Scholar; was a mentor in the Peer Mentor Program; was a Griffin Guide for incoming economics majors; and received the Winter International Travel Fellowship to spend three weeks writing a food blog in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I spent a summer as the Gerhardt policy and legal intern at 1000 Friends of Oregon, where I wrote a report on wildfires and land use law and recommended policy changes. I was an American Indian studies research assistant for Prof. Carpentier; spent a year abroad at the London School of Economics; and was a summer research intern at Harvard.

What’s next: I’ll be joining the government relations team at the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. After that, I’m off to law school.