Drug dealers and gang members threaten the well-being of communities throughout the United States. In Indian Country, jurisdictional issues and a lack of trust in law enforcement complicate the apprehension of drug- and gang-involved offenders. Tribal Police Departments in Wisconsin formed the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative Task Force to strengthen their ability to deal with these illegal activities with support from the tribal governments. The Task Force facilitates inter-agency cooperation and helps tribes take the lead in addressing public safety threats to their communities.
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.
Grounded in the concept of “amuyich,” or generosity, the Santa Ynez Academic Readiness Effort tackles the Native nation’s once-major educational achievement gap head-on by providing comprehensive support for Santa Ynez Chumash students at every step of their educational journeys – from birth through adulthood. Last year, an incredible 97% of Chumash students graduated high school – and the tribe is poised to reach 100%. Graduates and students alike are role models for the next generation and are equipped to serve as leaders and key decision makers for the nation. By providing students with mentorship, tutoring, and assistance, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is creating a brighter tribal future.
Like many other Native nations, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska grapples with a lack of housing for its people, especially for the tribe’s rapidly growing middle class. In response, community leaders developed Ho-Chunk Village, a 40-acre master planned community that is transforming the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska by purposefully providing home-ownership opportunities, integrated rentals for elders, and space for businesses in a walkable community. In developing Ho-Chunk Village, the Winnebago Tribe is showcasing how a tribal government, nonprofit, and tribal enterprise can work together in creative ways.
Recognizing that creating and maintaining a justice system is vital to a strong society, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe of Alaska developed its own tribal court in 1986 – despite the fact that in Alaska, few if any tribes had taken this step before. Since then, the Kenaitze Tribal Court has worked diligently to expand its jurisdiction over a range of issues. Its leadership in child advocacy has been especially pioneering – in Alaska and beyond. By collaborating with state, tribal, local, and nonprofit agencies, the Court helps ensure that Native children are protected and kept safe – and reinforces the tribe’s assertion of jurisdiction over young tribal citizens. Today, nearly 100% of children in the tribal court system are placed with family or other tribal members. The Kenaitze Tribal Court gives tribes everywhere compelling proof that quality Native justice systems are foundational to effective governance and to the defense of sovereignty.
Disagreements between tribes and their neighbors over natural resource management are common throughout the US, and local misunderstandings and differences of opinion can lead to strained and even hostile relationships. The Nez Perce Tribe founded its Fisheries Department in exactly such an environment. Declining fish stocks led to resource competition and increased pressure on treaty rights. Today, the department works cooperatively with neighboring jurisdictions to monitor fish numbers, manage fish hatcheries, and promote habitat restoration throughout the Tribe’s traditional lands.
The teenage years are an exciting but challenging phase of life. For Native youth, racism and mixed messages about identity can make the transition to adulthood particularly fraught, and may even lead to risky or self-destructive behavior. Within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a groundbreaking initiative to restore rites of passage for youth has engaged the entire community. The Ohero:kon ceremonial rite guides youth through Mohawk practices and teachings in the modern context, strengthening their cultural knowledge, self-confidence, and leadership skills.
Situated in the “most unhealthy county in the state of Montana” and confronting staggering indicators of poor health among their people, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation decided their children deserved better. The tribes made a bold move that is as simple as it is logical: they established and staffed full service health clinics in the schools on their reservation. Financed largely through Medicaid reimbursement, the high quality health care now available to tribal youth includes dental care, mental health services, nutrition counseling, and medical care. The School-Based Health Centers are not only an outstanding example of self-determination but are also a powerful reminder that having healthy citizens is critical for building strong nations.
Tribal land is a scarce resource, and tribal leaders often face competing demands concerning land use. Especially pressing are the potential tradeoffs between development and environmental stewardship. The Lummi Nation was eager to develop housing and commercial properties but wanted to make sure that these projects would not damage ecologically sensitive areas on the reservation. To help manage development on its lands, the nation created the first tribally operated commercial wetland mitigation bank in the country. The Lummi Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank sells mitigation credits to both tribal and non-tribal projects, helping the nation balance its development and preservation goals.
Many American families dream of owning a single family home in a suburban subdivision. Yet on tribal lands this type of housing can have devastating social and cultural consequences— especially for a community like Ohkay Owingeh, whose residents traditionally lived in high density housing surrounding central plazas. At Ohkay Owingeh, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies supported the construction of new suburban subdivisions over the rehabilitation of traditional pueblo dwellings—and homes at the pueblo’s core that had been occupied for generations slowly were being abandoned. The pueblo undertook to revitalize the historic village center in a way that celebrates traditional culture, bringing life back to the plazas that are the cultural heart of the nation.
Children are the future of any nation. In the US, a misguided and shameful history of removing Native children from their homes destroyed families and communities. Although the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 affirmed tribal nations’ role in child protection, assimilationist policies have an ongoing influence, and Native children taken into the homes of non-Native families typically grow up with no connection to their extended families and lose their cultural identity. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (PGST) resolved to create its own Child Welfare Program and recently took complete control over federal funds for child welfare, a first among tribes in the US. PGST provides services that are culturally sensitive and integrated with tribal programs to protect children and strengthen families.
Proud of the increasing number of citizens pursuing college degrees, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) leaders became concerned that their talented students were not getting enough education in what it means to be Citizen Potawatomi. To nurture the nations’ future political leadership, the tribe launched the Potawatomi Leadership Program, which gives students an unforgettable “crash course” in CPN government, economy, and culture. In doing so, program graduates are armed with the cultural and political knowledge they need to become the leaders they were born to be.
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.
As the climate changes, abnormally high or low temperatures, strong storms, tidal surge and sea level rise, and unusual precipitation patterns are affecting our environment in many ways. After experiencing numerous extreme weather events, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (SITC) decided to put in place a far-reaching action plan to prepare for future climate changes. The Swinomish Climate Change Initiative takes a close look at possible climate related impacts and brings the community together to deal with threats to the Swinomish way of life.