Bureau of Indian Affairs

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A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country

A Quiet Crisis Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country

The federal government has a long-established special relationship with Native Americans characterized by their status as governmentally independent entities, dependent on the United States for support and protection. In exchange for land and in compensation for forced removal from their original…

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Indian Affairs Mortgage Handbook

The purpose of this handbook is to provide guidance to BIA staff for processing leasehold and trust land mortgages on trust or restricted land; specifically, how to review and analyze a mortgage loan request from a lender using a minimum, streamlined, and standardized process. The handbook contains…

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The Ya Ne Dah Ah School (Chickaloon): Melding Traditional Teachings with Modern Curricula

The Ya Ne Dah Ah School (Chickaloon): Melding Traditional Teachings with Modern Curricula

For many generations, education in American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities has been controlled by sources external to the communities and the people themselves. Large bureaucratic agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or public school systems overseen by state governments…

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Robert Hershey and Andrew Martinez: The Legal Process of Constitutional Reform (Q&A)

Robert Hershey and Andrew Martinez engage participants in a lively discussion about the intricacies of secretarial elections and whether and how Native nations with Indian Reorganization Act constitutions should remove the Secretary of Interior approval clause from those governing documents.

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Robert Hershey: Dispelling Stereotypes about the Federal Government's Role in Native Nation Constitutional Reform

Robert Hershey, Professor of Law and American Indian Studies at The University of Arizona, dispels some longstanding stereotypes about what the federal government can and will do should a Native nation decide to amend its constitution to remove the Secretary of Interior approval clause or else make…

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Jennifer Porter: The Kootenai Tribe: Strengthening the People's Voice in Government Through Constitutional Change

Jennifer Porter, former chairwoman and current vice-chairwoman of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, discusses how her nation moved to amend it constitution to change its basis of political representation, how the U.S. Secretary of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) tried to block the move,…

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Good Native Governance: Keynote Address

UCLA School of Law "Good Native Governance" conference keynote speaker, Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary — Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior, examines how Native nations are engaging so well in self-determination through good governance.  This video resource is featured on…

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Vanya Hogen: Redefining Citizenship Criteria Through Constitutional Reform and Other Means

Lawyer and tribal judge Vanya Hogen (Oglala Sioux) discusses the difficulties inherent in amending Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) constitutions to redefine tribal citizenship criteria, and shares the story of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community as an example of one Native nation with an IRA…

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From the Good Native Governance: Innovative Research in Law, Education, and Economic Development Conference

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn provided a snapshot of Native nations engaging in self-governance reinforcing the notion that "almost anything the federal government can do, tribes can do better" through good governance. 

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Richard Luarkie: The Pueblo of Laguna: A Constitutional History

In this informative interview with NNI's Ian Record, Laguna Governor Richard Luarkie provides a detailed overview of what prompted the Pueblo of Laguna to first develop a written constitution in 1908, and what led it to amend the constitution on numerous occasions in the century since. He also…

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John "Rocky" Barrett: The Origins of Blood Quantum Among the Citizen Potawatomi

In this excerpt from his presentation at NNI's "Emerging leaders" seminar in 2012, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett provides an overview of how the U.S. government -- specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs -- imposed blood quantum on the Citizen Potawatomi people, and how…

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David Wilkins: Indigenous Governance Systems: Diversity, Colonization, Adaptation, and Resurgence

In this in-depth interview with NNI's Ian Record, federal Indian law and policy scholar David Wilkins discusses the incredible diversity and sophistication of traditional Indigenous governance systems, the profound impacts colonial policies had on those systems, and how Native nations are working…

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Jill Doerfler: Defining Citizenship: Blood Quantum vs. Descendancy

Scholar Jill Doerfler (Anishinaabe) talks about the colonial origins of blood quantum as a criterion for determining "Indian" and tribal identity, and explains how the federal government imposed that criterion upon the White Earth people in order to divest them of their land. She also stresses the…

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Robert Hershey: The Legal Process of Constitutional Reform

Robert Hershey, Professor of Law and American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, provides an overview of what Native nations need to consider when it comes to the legal process involved with reforming their constitutions, and dispels some of the misconceptions that people have about the…

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Anthony Hill: Constitutional Reform on the Gila River Indian Community

Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Chief Judge Anthony Hill, who served as Chair of the Gila River Constitutional Reform Team, discusses the reform process that GRIC followed, the current state of GRIC's reform effort, and what he sees as lessons learned from Gila River's experience.

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Jill Doerfler: Constitutional Reform at the White Earth Nation

In this in-depth interview with NNI's Ian Record, Anishinaabe scholar Jill Doerfler discusses the White Earth Nation's current constitutional reform effort, and specifically the extensive debate that White Earth constitutional delegates engaged in regarding changing the criteria for White Earth…

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Rae Nell Vaughn: Tribal Court Systems in the 21st Century: The Choctaw Tribal Court System

Former Chief Justice of the Mississippi Choctaw Supreme Court Rae Nell Vaughn provides a detailed overview of the growth and evolution of the Mississippi Choctaw's governance system and specifically its justice system, stressing the importance of Native nations providing a fair, effective,…

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John "Rocky" Barrett: A Sovereignty "Audit": A History of Citizen Potawatomi Nation Governance

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett shares the history of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and discusses its 40-year effort to strengthen its governance system in order to achieve its goals.

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Yakama Nation To Regain Full Authority On Tribal Lands

Yakamas to regain full authority on tribal land

In what tribal leaders call a historic development, Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed a proclamation that returns almost all civil and criminal authority over tribal members on the reservation back to the Yakama Nation. Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin said the signing is not only “historic”…

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The Sustained Self-Sufficiency of the Five Civilized Tribes

The Sustained Self-Sufficiency of the Five Civilized Tribes

Between 1820 and 1870, five Indian nations in the southeast adopted constitutions, engaged in for-profit cotton export, created tribal school systems, established courts, police, and remained economically and politically independent and self-sufficient. The five nations -- Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek…