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In August 2017, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe invited the Native Nations Institute's (NNI) Tribal Services and our partners at the Native Governance Center (NGC) to facilitate a Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) Constitutional Convention. The MCT is a US government-created federation of six Ojibwe tribes (also known as bands) whose lands share a geography with the state of Minnesota. The MCT Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) oversees the activities of this centralized government; the six member bands also have their own decision making bodies, known as Reservation Business Committees (RBCs). To facilitate the constitutional convention, NNI and NGC are working with local representatives to co-host meetings on each band's reservation and to host an additional meeting in the Twin Cities area.
MCT is tackling a challenge that many Native nations face-rethinking governing systems that are not of their own design. The constitutional convention sessions give citizens an opportunity to discuss what's working and what's not and, in particular, to voice their opinions about the processes the MCT uses to make decisions that affect tribal lands and communities. Tribal members also are asked to suggest solutions to their concerns and to otherwise assist their nations in moving forward. NNI staff motivate these conversations by providing information about the diversity of tribal constitutions found across the United States and by sharing best practices for constitutional reform. (Examples of such information can be found in NNI's Constitutions Resource Center. NNI executive director Joan Timeche (Hopi), NNI senior researcher and outreach specialist Danielle Hiraldo (Lumbee), and NNI tribal services program coordinator Lindsay Riggs (Navajo) are the NNI staff collaborating on this effort.