By the time Josh and his cohort of U.S. federal mediators entered the negotiation room in Washington, D.C., what should have been a momentous occasion was a hot mess.

At a meeting between negotiators representing hundreds of Native American tribes and the federal government, dozens of people were angrily clamoring for seats. Assistants, advocates, lobbyists, attorneys, civil servants, and members of the public were also elbowing their way through the crowded negotiation room. It was a worst-case scenario for Josh and his colleagues, federal mediators tasked with resolving some of our nation’s most complex disputes.

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