Dedicated to giving community youth the skills necessary for functioning in a modern world while retaining and facilitating traditional knowledge and practices, the Ya Ne Dah Ah is Alaska’s only tribally owned and operated full-time primary school and day care facility. Located in a one-room schoolhouse that receives no federal or state funding, the School’s 20 students – whose CAT scores are higher than their national counterparts – learn Ahtna Athabascan history, language, music, and art from elders, and science and math from tribal foresters, environmentalists, and computer technicians. The School’s board also encourages intensive parental involvement and aggressively monitors student progress.
Chartered under the laws of the Gila River Indian Community, the Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council gives youth a formal voice in tribal governance and prepares the next generation of leadership. Comprised of twenty young leaders between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, who are elected by their peers to serve two-year terms, the Youth Council advises the Tribal Government on a diverse range of issues including youth delinquency, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy. In addition, the Youth Council engages tribal youth in a variety of initiatives that enhance understanding of and participation in tribal public service.
The first American Indian-owned bank in California, Borrego Springs Bank offers a full range of services to tribal governments, Native-owned businesses, and others in order to foster the economic self-sufficiency of American Indian nations and individuals, diversify the Viejas Tribe’s economy, and improve Indian Country’s access to financial services. With over $83 million in assets and three full-service branches that serve Indian and non-Indian clientele, the Bank is an impressive financial institution that provides fruitful lessons for other tribes.
Required as mandatory training for tribal employees, the Cherokee Nation History Course has given employees, both Cherokee and non-Cherokee alike, a stronger sense of pride and a better understanding of self-governance. Indeed, this successful and innovative history and leadership course has stimulated a shift in employees’ and citizens' thinking. Tribal employees see themselves not only as service providers, but as leaders of their nation; tribal members no longer see themselves as mere recipients of services, but as active citizens of a sovereign nation.
In response to the failure of the federal and state governments to protect salmon and salmon habitat in the Columbia River Basin, the Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, and Warm Springs Tribes came together in 1977 to create the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Through fisheries management, policy development, advocacy, litigation support, habitat restoration, and fundraising, CRITFC is leading a comprehensive effort to restore salmon for the benefit of its member tribes and all people of the Pacific Northwest.
Recognizing the demand for a government that would respond to the unique needs of the Diné people, the Navajo Nation created the Commission on Navajo Government Development and its administrative arm, the Office of Navajo Government Development, in 1989. With the sole responsibility of undertaking government reform, the Commission and Office have educated the Navajo population on governmental issues and increased local participation in governance and the government reform process. These organizations are unique—and uniquely successful—in institutionalizing the process for undertaking on-going government reform in Indian Country.
Owned by a consortium of seven Indian nations, the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations is a treatment center that helps Native American youth and their families heal from the trauma of alcohol and drug abuse. Services include in-patient chemical dependency programs, mental health counseling, family counseling, a juvenile justice improvement project, recreation, education, and cultural activities. Since its creation in 1989, the Healing Lodge has served over 1,500 youth from more than 150 Indian nations, giving them fresh opportunities to better themselves and their communities.
Officially sanctioned by the Grand Council of Chiefs to represent the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team is the only Native national sports team in international competition. The Team, which has won numerous medals and awards, travels overseas using Haudenosauneee passports, and in so doing, has successfully engaged state departments, embassies, and consulates around the world in recognizing the sovereignty of the Iroquois Confederacy and its member nations. Team members comprise a corps of Iroquois ambassadors who build international goodwill and educate fellow athletes, government officials, and the public about the Iroquois.
Excluded by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, the Chilkoot Tlingit’s political presence was reduced to a mailbox and storage room in the basement of a meeting hall in Haines, Alaska. Embracing the concept of self-determination, the Chilkoot Indian Association has been engaged in a process of nation building since 1990. The Tribe is rewriting its constitution, developing institutional capacity, rebuilding a land base, forging government-to-government relationships with surrounding jurisdictions, and improving services for its citizens.
In 1995, the Coquille Indian Tribe established the Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) to recover historical, anthropological, military, and government documents relating to the Tribe and surrounding Indian nations. These documents were potlatched in two giftgiving ceremonies to forty-four different tribes and are now locally accessible at tribal libraries and at a central archive at the University of Oregon. Through SWORP, the Coquille have helped themselves and others rewrite and interpret tribal histories, develop innovative partnerships, improve tribal governmental performance, and strengthen tribal sovereignty.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) initiated the Umatilla Salmon Recovery Project in 1980 to restore water and salmon to the Umatilla River while also protecting the local economy, which depends on irrigated agriculture. Remarkable both for its success in bringing salmon back to a river where they had been absent for seventy years and in the avoiding endless cycles of litigation frequently associated with natural resource and species restoration conflicts, the Project demonstrates the effectiveness of cooperative problem-solving.
Established in 1979, and taken under Winnebago tribal management in 1995, the Whirling Thunder Wellness Program combats diabetes and substance abuse by raising community awareness, administering primary and secondary prevention services, and encouraging healthy lifestyles that are consistent with traditional practices. With its focus on prevention, this field-based program is changing individual and community behavior on the reservation and helping to ensure a healthy citizenry for generations to come.
Dedicated to providing community youth with the skills necessary for functioning in a modern world while maintaining Native knowledge and practices, the Ya Ne Dah Ah School is Alaska’s only tribally owned and operated full-time primary school and day care facility. Located in a two-room schoolhouse and supported entirely by private donations and tribal funding, the School’s twenty students are taught – and excel in – the conventional topics of science, math, English, and social studies. In addition, the students learn Ahtna Athabascan history, language, music, and art – topics and skills that the Village of Chickaloon values and that community members help the School to teach.
The Yakama Nation Land Enterprise was created in 1950 to provide the Yakama Nation with an institutional vehicle for confronting its longstanding crisis of land loss. By taking an active role as a buyer and developer of land within the exterior boundaries of the Yakama Reservation, the Yakama Nation Land Enterprise presents an excellent model of how Indian nations can reduce reservation checkerboarding, decrease attendant jurisdictional disputes with other governments, and develop revenue-generating businesses to complete a cycle of self-sufficient land repurchase.
Created in 1999, the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary is the first eagle sanctuary owned and operated by Native Americans as well as the first aviary constructed for the purpose of cultural preservation. Combining both functional aspects of eagle care with an aesthetic that reflects the natural surroundings of Zuni, the Sanctuary is home to more than twenty eagles that otherwise would have been destroyed. Successfully meeting the Zunis’ demand for molted eagle feathers that are used in religious and cultural ceremonies, the Sanctuary is also a model of intergovernmental cooperation between a tribal government and federal agency.