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WELCOME TO THE CONSTITUTIONS RESOURCE CENTER
Across the world, Native nations are addressing the challenge of self-government. As they seize new opportunities to exercise self-determination, many are asking, “Are our current governing tools up to the task?”
A number of Indigenous communities’ answer to the question is “no.” In response, some are writing constitutions for the first time. Others are tackling constitutions written long ago. Some are challenging assumptions embedded in governance systems they did not design. Many are re-engaging with their own Indigenous governance traditions as a guide to constitution-making or constitutional reform. Together, they are developing innovative political arrangements for exercising self-rule that sustain culture and community, promote tribally specified development goals, and create appropriate mechanisms for interacting with other governments. In sum, they are rethinking what it means to govern and how they want to do so.
The Native Nations Institute’s web-based Constitutions Resource Center (CRC) brings together extensive research on Indigenous constitutions, examples of the constitutional changes that Native nations are making, and videos of Native leaders and other governance experts talking about constitutional change. The site provides Native nations with access to a comprehensive set of tools and Native nation examples that can be helpful in the process of constitutional reform.
The CRC is divided into five main sections:
- The Defining section considers what constitutions are, their role in the lives of Native nations, and the history of Indigenous constitutional governance.
- The Developing section reviews topics commonly included in the constitutions of Native nations, poses questions for those engaged in constitutional change, and provides examples of constitutional solutions chosen by some Native nations.
- The Changing section reviews governance reform processes and the methods that Native nations have used to change their constitutions.
- The Living section looks at the impact of constitutional change on tribal government and at the tasks involved in sustaining constitutional government over time.
- The In Action section provides both excerpts from constitutions and a video catalog of Indigenous leaders discussing a wide range of governance topics.
The free Constitutions Resource Center is a new component within NNI’s Indigenous Governance Database, an online resource dedicated to Native nation building, governance, and leadership.