Establishing the criteria for citizenship is an inherent right of national governments around the world. This right determines who can be a citizen and how citizenship is transferred through generations. Yet for Indian nations, history complicates efforts to fully exercise sovereignty. Project Tiwahu –Redefining Tigua Citizenship was an Ysleta del Sur Pueblo wide – initiative to reform and self-determine enrollment as an exercise of tribal sovereignty. Reform efforts addressed the hard questions about belonging and built consensus around a new, more inclusive approach to tribal citizenship.
In many parts of the United States, there is a long history of mistrust between Indian nations and neighboring municipalities. Officials lack an understanding of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, leading to strained or even hostile relationships. In Scott County, tribal and nontribal government officials recognized that by working together they could stretch their scarce resources further, resulting in a win-win for all area communities. The Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency, known as SCALE, fosters intergovernmental cooperation and furthers the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s ability to improve its citizens’ quality of life.
In many parts of the United States, there is a long history of mistrust between Indian nations and neighboring municipalities. Officials lack an understanding of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, leading to strained or even hostile relationships. In Scott County, tribal and nontribal government officials recognized that, by working together, they could stretch their scarce resources further, resulting in a win-win for all area communities. The Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency, known as SCALE, fosters intergovernmental cooperation and furthers the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s ability to improve its citizens’ quality of life.
Forced relocations, loss of lands, and the economic necessity of moving away from home and community are common histories in Indian Country. Yet, despite these tragic circumstances, tribes continue to assert their sovereignty in order to improve the lives of their people. One of these remarkable stories comes from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN). In 2007, tired of bandaging a failing constitution that did not meet the cultural needs of the Nation, CPN citizens ratified a new governing document that resulted in a significant transfer of power and realigned the constitution to Citizen Potawatomi culture. The Nation moved from a five-member business committee with representatives only from Oklahoma to a sixteen-member legislative body with regional representatives for all CPN citizens, wherever they reside. In addition, it established checks and balances and further clarified roles and responsibilities within the governing system. Perhaps most important of all, it strengthened the Nation’s self governance by removing the clause that required the US Secretary of the Interior to approve future changes to CPN’s constitution.
Since the 1970s, federal American Indian policy in the United States has been aimed at promoting self-determination through self-governance by federally-recognized tribes. This policy has proven to be the only policy that has worked to make significant progress in reversing otherwise distressed social, cultural and economic conditions in Native communities. The policy of self-determination reflects a political equilibrium which has held for four decades and which has withstood various shifts in the party control of Congress and the White House. While Republicans have provided relatively weak support for social spending on Indian issues when compared to Democrats, both parties’ representatives have generally been supportive of self-determination and local self-rule for tribes. Analysis of thousands of sponsorships of federal legislation over 1970-present, however, finds the equilibrium under challenge. In particular, since the late 1990s, Republican congressional support for policies of self-determination has fallen off sharply and has not returned. The recent change in the party control of Congress calls into question the sustainability of self-determination through self-governance as a central principle of federal Indian policy.
In 1958 the California Rancheria Act terminated many California tribes and substantially diminished tribally held trust lands. Re-recognition processes in the 1980s restored many tribes’ political status but little of their land: 8.5 million acres of former Indian land remain alienated. California-based tribes decided to launch a proactive effort to overcome a 20-year fee-to-trust deadlock, and the California Fee-to-Trust Consortium was born. Since its inception, the Consortium has helped to move 15,274 acres into trust status. The average processing time has decreased from ten years to one. The return of lands has brought families back together; provided a foundation upon which to build the structures of governance, commerce, and cultural importance; and given citizens a place to put down roots and grow.
In 2007, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation adopted a new constitution which adopted a three-branch system of government, eliminated Secretarial Elections, and created the Citizen Potawatomi legislature. This 16-member legislative body is deliberately balanced, with eight Oklahoma members elected at large by Oklahoma residents and one member each from the eight legislative districts that comprise the rest of the United States, each representing a roughly equal number of Citizen Potawatomi citizens. The legislature meets virtually and all meetings are streamed and archived on the internet.
A collection of Honoring Nations reports focused on governmental foundations: Osage Nation Governmental Reform Initiative Northwest Intertribal Court System Elders Cultural Advisory Council Choctaw Tribal Court System Akimel O'odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council Old Law & New Law Together.
At the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. government abolished the 1881 Osage Nation Constitution and imposed rules for land ownership and citizenship. Many Osage citizens were disenfranchised and the Tribal Council was granted only limited powers, leading to years of weak government, corruption, and turmoil. Over 100 years later, the Osage Government Reform Initiative began the task of designing a new government that would better represent and serve all Osages. As a result of the Initiative, the Osage Nation adopted a new constitution in June 2006. Written by the Osage people, it has brought back into the tribal community the thousands of citizens who had once been excluded.
Since 1975, when the U.S. government adopted a policy of self-determination for American Indian nations, a large number of the 562 federally recognized nations have seized the opportunity to govern themselves and determine their own economic, political, and cultural futures. As a first and crucial step in this process, many nations are revising constitutions originally developed by the U.S. government to create governmental structures more attuned to native people'sunique cultural and political values. These new constitutions and the governing institutions they create are fostering greater governmental stability and accountability, increasing citizen support of government, and providing a firmer foundation for economic and political development. This book brings together for the first time the writings of tribal reform leaders, academics, and legal practitioners to offer a comprehensive overview of American Indian nations' constitutional reform processes and the rebuilding of native nations. The book is organized in three sections. The first part investigates the historical, cultural, economic, and political motivations behind American Indian nations' recent reform efforts. The second part examines the most significant areas of reform, including criteria for tribal membership/citizenship and the reform of governmental institutions. The book concludes with a discussion of how American Indian nations are navigating the process of reform, including overcoming the politics of reform, maximizing citizen participation, and developing short-term and long-term programs of civic education.
For years, limited on-reservation housing options forced citizens of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to look elsewhere to live. Taking action to solve this problem, the Tribe encouraged private lenders to offer mortgages on trust land and to offer terms and rates similar to those available off the reservation. A critical component of this solution was the creation of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Land Title and Records Office, which keeps all records and verifies all titles pertaining to trust lands, replacing the BIA's much slower and more cumbersome process. As a result, private mortgage lending has increased, there is a housing boom on Saginaw lands, and economic development options that were simply impossible before have emerged. Most importantly, citizens are moving back home.
A unique partnership between an urban Indian center and a tribal government, the tribally funded Community Center serves nearly 500 Menominee tribal citizens living in the greater Chicago area. The Center and the tribal government work together to ensure that all of its citizens are actively involved in tribal affairs by organizing trips to the reservation, providing full electoral rights for off-reservation citizens, and by holding official tribal legislature meetings at the Center.
The reservation lands of the Miccosukee Tribe lie largely within the Everglades National Park. Development on these lands is subject to elaborate regulations by a host of federal agencies. This hindered economic development and other uses of their lands by the Miccosukee people, including the building of traditional dwellings and family gardening. Tribal citizens had to negotiate a time-consuming, regulatory maze almost every time they engaged in land-use activities. With the Section 404 Permitting Program, the Tribe set out to streamline the regulatory process and, more importantly, to win for itself a stronger role in regulatory activity. By contracting on-reservation authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers to issue land permits, enforce environmental codes, and manage permit violations, the Miccosukee Tribe is not only enabling its citizens to improve their own homes and engage in traditional cultural activities, but it is also expanding the reach of the Tribe's own governmental powers by managing and enforcing permitting through national channels.
The Navajo Nation is the largest coal-producing tribe in the U.S. and, historically, its government has relied on tax and royalty revenue associated with coal production as a primary source of revenue. Today, however, both depletion and a desire to lessen the Nation's dependence on income from non-renewable resources have led the Navajo Nation to consider new ways to generate revenue for governmental operations. In 2002, it began levying the first comprehensive Native nation sales tax on goods and services sold within reservation boundaries. By law, revenue from the tax is earmarked for the Nation's Permanent Trust Fund, land acquisition, and local government, among other uses, before the remainder flows to the nation's General Fund.
The work, which is currently being done within the Rosebud Sioux community to amend the current 1935 IRA Constitution is both timely and extremely commendable. Reforming the constitution so that it better fits the present day lives and culture of the Rosebud Sioux community is an ambitious act, currently being tackled by the Rosebud Community at-large and through the hard work of the Constitutional Task Force. A constitution should serve as the essence of the community, which embodies the spirit, political structure, culture, and way of life in which a society has chosen to live. Potential investors will look at the safeguards in place within the constitution to see how their potential investments will be protected. Foreign peoples will look at the Constitution and develop an image of what the Rosebud Sioux stand for. While a constitution must be legitimate in the eyes of its people, it must also evoke a proud and deep personal sense of connection. There seems to be broad consensus that the current constitution comes up short in these respects. Therefore it is extremely advantageous that the Rosebud Community and the Constitutional Task Force have been working to address some of the current Constitution’s shortcomings. The amending process of the Constitution, which is currently taking place, is a tremendous step in the direction of exerting sovereignty and developing a precious document, which can accurately embody the unique Rosebud culture and establish a culturally practical political structure.
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.
Both research and the experience among Native nations daily drive home the conclusion that the so-called “nation building” approach holds the keys to self-determined social, political, and economic development for indigenous communities. This approach emphasizes the critical role of asserting rights of self-rule and backing up those assertions with governing institutions that are legitimate in the eyes of the people and efficient in their operation. This study examines the question of why is it that some Native nations seize upon the nation building strategy and take effective control of their futures while others do not. We find that foundational change in a community arises when the external and internal conditions a people face interact with their interpretations of their situation, producing a new, shared “story” of what is possible, and how it can be achieved. The keys to changing a community's“story” are found in proactive decisions to alter internal and external situations, acquire concrete knowledge of the feasible, build on the community'scultural assets, and exercise leadership—especially in educating the people in a new vision.
The Ihanktuwan Dakotah Oyate Constitution Revision Committee has been entrusted with the task of recommending constitutional amendments which can help ensure the future political stability and economic development of the Tribe. The Ihanktuwan Dakotah Oyate are proud of their culture and traditions and their future economic potential.
The Native peoples of Alaska have governed themselves for far longer than either the State of Alaska or the United States. Indeed, their rights of self-government are properly defended as basic human rights that are not unilaterally extinguishable by these other governments. Yet, today an assortment of questions are being raised about key aspects of Alaska Native self-governance. Among these are questions such as: What form should Native self-government take? What powers should it include? In which communities or groups should those powers be vested? Additional questions are being raised about how the delivery of social services to Alaska Natives is organized. Who should be responsible for service delivery, and what form should service delivery take?