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What is Native Nation Building?
Nation building refers to efforts Native nations make to increase their capacities for self-rule and for self-determined, sustainable community and economic development.
Nation building involves building institutions of self-government that are culturally appropriate to the nation and that are effective in addressing the nation’s challenges. It involves developing the nation's capacity to make timely, strategically informed decisions about its affairs and to implement those decisions. It involves a comprehensive effort to rebuild societies that work.
In other words, a nation-building approach understands that tribes are not merely interest groups, but governing nations confronting classic problems of human societies.
Resources on Native Nation Building are available on the Indigenous Governance Database and courses are offered through the Indigenous Governance Program.
Native nations are governing:
These challenges are foundational, and they require a foundational response. As Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga says, the task is “to rebuild our nations.”
Five Core Principles of Native Nation Rebuilding
The Native Nations Institute’s understanding of Indigenous nation building emerges from 30 years of research by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (founded in 1986) and NNI (founded in 2001). Our research efforts have sought to understand the conditions under which sustained development can be successful in Indigenous nations. The results indicate that five elements are particularly important:
Indigenous nations are engaging in Native nation building as they work to embrace and apply these principles.