Hot Topics in Constitution Making & Remaking

Oct. 28, 2022
Remaking Tribal Constitutions Seminar

The question of constitutional making – and remaking – goes to the heart of Native nationhood, governance, and government administration.

On September 19-20, 2022, the Native Nations Institute (NNI) held our Remaking Tribal Constitutions Seminar at the Wild Horse Pass Casino & Resort on the homelands of the Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona. The two-day seminar featured six interactive sessions based on resources available in NNI’s Constitutions Resource Center, including:

  • What is a Constitution?
  • What Kind of Constitution Do We Need?
  • How Do We Make Change Happen?
  • How Do We Live with Our New Constitution?

NNI’s Tory Fodder served as Co-MC while Joan Timeche, Crystal Miller and Sabestine Hernandez of NNI’s Tribal and Direct Services Team facilitated small group discussions on the challenges and issues associated with participants’ Tribal constitutions, what kind of constitutions they need, strategies they could use to engage citizens, and strategies to support and sustain a new or revised constitution. NNI’s Stephen Cornell, Miriam Jorgensen and Joan Timeche delivered presentations based on their research and experience working on constitutional reform in Indian Country. Ten prominent tribal leaders – all of whom have been instrumental in their nation’s constitutional processes – also shared their stories and experiences of constitution making and remaking for their Tribes.

There was active participation, interest, and engagement that allowed for inter-tribal sharing and fruitful discussions that were as diverse as the 40 participants from the 20 Native nations represented at the event. The two ‘hot topics’ in governance – citizenship and the Secretary of Interior approval clause in IRA constitutions – stimulated an exceptional amount of productive and enthusiastic conversation amongst participants.

Learn more about these hot topics with our Indigenous Governance Database:

Photos from the event by 4Directions Media:

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