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The Native Nations Institute is pleased to announce its Constitution Resource Center (CRC), a unique resource for Indigenous nations involved in constitutional reform. The CRC is an online platform that combines essential overview information with expert analysis and first-person stories about Native nations’ constitutional innovations, setbacks, and successes. Highlights from this new resource include instructive excerpts from tribal constitutions and videos of Native leaders discussing a wide variety of reform-relevant topics.
The Native Nations Institute launched the CRC at the National Congress of American Indian’s 73rd Annual Convention and Marketplace in Phoenix on October 10, 2016. The launch event brought together over eighty tribal leaders, tribal community members, elected officials, students, and members of the general public. Speakers included: Joan Timeche, NNI executive director; Stephen Cornell, NNI faculty chair; Ian Record, NCAI partnership for tribal governance director and former NNI educational resources manager; Herminia Frias, councilwoman for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and former NNI-Bush Foundation partnership manager; and Frank Ettawageshik, executive director for the United Tribes of Michigan and former chairman for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa.
Joan Timeche thanked NNI’s funders, guest speakers, NNI’s International Advisory Council, and nations and individuals already deeply involved in constitutional reform for making the CRC possible.
Stephen Cornell addressed the importance of tribal self-determination, a key reason for constitutional reform: “Indigenous nations have to be in the driver seat. They have to be running the show. Nothing works if it is decided for you by someone else. The decisions have to be made by Indigenous nations that know what they want and figure out how to achieve it.”
Ian Record, who conceived the CRC during his tenure at NNI, noted:
“A growing number of tribal nations are realizing that if they are to effectively exercise their sovereignty and create vibrant futures of their own design, their governance systems . . . must be up to the task. They must draw upon and fortify their cultures and values. They must be capable of making and enforcing sound and informed decisions. They must reflect tribal self-governance and not some outsider’s notion of governance.”
Herminia Frias praised the new resource, saying, “I am very thankful to have a resource like this, to help us as a tribal council and as a nation to start building a constitution that reflects us, and to help us as a nation continue to grow and prosper.”
Frank Ettawageshik stated, “This new tool should help everybody to figure it out if you need to change things. I’m really excited to be part of this and to work with all the great people involved in it.”
The CRC is a free resource providing access to governance and constitutional change information that can be tailored to a Native nation’s specific needs. Sign up for an account today.