What do governance and government mean? This paper-one of a series of papers commissioned by the British Columbia Regional Vice-Chief of the Assembly of First Nations-defines governance and government and describes the critical role both play in human communities. It also examines what effective self-governance involves and how self-governing systems can be built, and it draws distinctions between self-administration-sometimes mistaken for self-government and genuine self-government. Drawing on a large body of research on governance and development among indigenous nations in Canada and the United States, the paper considers the implications of these issues for First Nations and for federal governments. The paper concludes with a discussion of the specific tasks facing First Nations and Canada in making Aboriginal self-government a reality.