About Honoring Nations

Honoring Nations

An Awards Program that Identifies, Celebrates, & Shares

Outstanding Examples of Tribal Governance

Celebrating, documenting, and disseminating the stories of the outstanding programs in self-governance that are daily emerging from the Native nations, Honoring Nations highlights tribal government successes. It helps expand the capacities of Native nation builders by enabling them to learn from each others’ successes. The high public visibility and news coverage of Honoring Nations also permit non-Native policymakers, the media, and the general public to see what Native nations are actually doing in the drive for self-determination. Established in 1998, Honoring Nations’ experiences are the foundation for the teaching, advising, and policy analysis from the partnership between the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (Harvard Project) and the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona.

At the heart of Honoring Nations is the principle that tribes themselves hold the key to positive social, political, cultural, and economic prosperity—and that self-governance plays a crucial role in building and sustaining strong, healthy Indian nations. Honoring Nations serves as a vehicle for shifting the focus from what does not work to what does, fostering pride and confidence in the ability of American Indian governments to make positive contributions to the wellbeing of their respective communities and citizens. The program is also founded on the idea that Native nations can benefit from having greater access to innovative ideas and effective governing approaches. Honored programs serve as important sources of knowledge and inspiration, and our experience shows that they are drawn upon by communities throughout Indian Country and far beyond.

Honoring Nations invites applications from American Indian governments across a broad range of subject areas: education; health care; resource management; government policy development and reform; justice; inter-governmental relations; and economic, social, and cultural programs. A Board of Governors comprised of distinguished individuals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors guides the evaluation process, in which up to ten programs are selected for “High Honors” or “Honors.”All honorees receive national recognition. At each stage of the selection process, programs are evaluated on the basis of effectiveness, significance to sovereignty, cultural relevance, transferability, and sustainability. To facilitate the dissemination of best practices, honorees receive financial awards to share their success story with other governments. The Harvard Project also produces reports, case studies, and other curricular materials that are disseminated to tribal leaders, public servants, the media, scholars, students, and others interested in promoting and fostering excellence in governance.

To date, Honoring Nations has recognized 130 exemplary tribal government programs, practices, and initiatives and held five tribal government symposia.


Honoring Nations is also a proud member of a worldwide family of "governmental best practices" programs in Brazil, Chile, China, East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda), Mexico, the Philippines, Peru, South Africa, and the United States.

The Awards Program of Innovations and Excellence in Local Government

Galing Pook Awards 

Gestao Publica E Cidadania

Government and Local Management

Impumelelo Innovations Award Programme
South Africa

Innovations in American Government
The United States

The Mashariki Innovations in Local Governance Awards Programme
East African Region

Participacion y Gestion Local

Programa Ciudadania y Gestion Local