Indian Reorganization Act (IRA)

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Native Nation Building TV: "Moving Towards Nation Building"

Manley A. Begay, Jr. and Stephen Cornell contrast the two basic approaches to Indigenous governance -- the standard approach and the nation-building approach -- and discusses how a growing number of Native nations are moving towards nation building. It provides specific examples of how implementing…

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Frank Pommersheim: A Key Constitutional Issue: Dispute Resolution (Q&A)

University of South Dakota Professor of Law Frank Pommersheim fields audience questions about the importance of civic engagement to constitutional reform, removing the Secretary of Interior Approval clause from tribal constitutions, and other important topics.

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Joan Timeche and Joseph P. Kalt: The Process of Constitutional Reform: Key Issues and Cases to Consider

Joan Timeche and Joseph P. Kalt and Miriam Jorgensen share two stories of constitutional reform processes undertaken by Native nations and discuss what factors spurred or impeded the ultimate success of those efforts. 

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Native Nation Building TV: "Constitutions and Constitutional Reform"

Guests Joseph P. Kalt and Sophie Pierre explore the evidence that strong Native nations require strong foundations, which necessarily require the development of effective, internally created constitutions (whether written or unwritten). It examines the impacts a constitution has on the people it…

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Todd Hembree: A Key Constitutional Issue: Separations of Powers

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree discusses the critical role of separations of powers in effective Native nation governance, and provides an overview of how the Cherokee Nation instituted an array of separations of powers in the development of their new constitution, which was ratified…

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Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Community Engagement Meeting held in Redby

Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Community Engagement Meeting held in Redby

The second of six scheduled Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Community Engagement Meetings was held at the Redby Community Center on March 24, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. The first meeting was held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on March 22, 2014 with about 60 people in…

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Teach youth about forms of government

Teach youth about forms of government

Why aren’t the schools teaching about the IRA form of government? Why aren’t they teaching about the traditional tiospaye form of government? The disenchantment and what appears to be apathy or even seditiousness toward the Indian Reorganization Act system of government have become “normal” among…

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Red Lake Constitutional Reform Wraps up Informational Meetings

Red Lake Constitutional Reform Informational Meetings Held

The meeting at Bemidji was one leg of the second round of informational meetings conducted by the Red Lake Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) in order to seek input and feedback from the membership regarding Constitutional Reform. Meetings are held in Duluth and the Twin Cites in addition to the…

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White Earth Nation Adopts New Constitution

White Earth Nation Adopts New Constitution

In a historic vote, on November 19, 2013, the White Earth Nation in northwestern Minnesota became the first member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) to adopt a new constitution. Of the 3,492 ballots counted, the vote was 2,780 in favor and 712 opposed, a 79 percent approval. Since the ballots…

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Indigenous Nations Have the Right to Choose: Renewal or Contract

Indigenous Nations Have the Right to Choose: Renewal or Contract

When making significant change indigenous nations make choices about whether to build on traditions or to adopt new forms of government, economy, culture or community. Many changes are external and often forced upon contemporary Indigenous Peoples. Adapting to competitive markets, or new…

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Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation: Constitutional Reform

Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation: Constitutional Reform

Days after certification of the Secretarial Election, positive comments were coming into the office of the Constitutional Revision committee. Donna Morgan and Ramona Two Shields began receiving flowers and calls from tribal members happy with the results. Both Two Shields and Morgan say it was the…

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How Does Tribal Leadership Compare to Parliamentary Leadership?

How Does Tribal Leadership Compare to Parliamentary Leadership?

Many traditional American Indian governments have significant organizational similarities with contemporary parliamentary governments around the world. A key similarity is that leadership serves only as long as there is supporting political consensus or confidence that the leader or leadership…

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The Dirt Poor and Filthy Rich: A Study in Contrasts

The Dirt Poor and Filthy Rich: A Study in Contrasts

A pair of Sir Elton John’s signature high-heeled boots. … Jimmy Hendrix’s Flying V guitar. One of Madonna’s bustiers. A bevy of pick-chipped six-strings previously owned by rock legends like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton — and one American Indian tribe owns them all. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, who…

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Tribes across the country are re-examining their constitutions

Tribes across the country are re-examining their constitutions

Erma Vizenor is not exactly a revolutionary. But like America’s founders, she’s on a mission to ratify a new constitution in her homeland – the White Earth tribal nation. Most Americans don’t realize that tribes have their own constitutions, which set down rules for everything from tribal…

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Tim Giago: Was the Indian Reorganization Act good or bad?

Tim Giago: Was the Indian Reorganization Act good or bad?

It was 75 years ago on June 18, 1934 when the Indian Reorganization Act became the law of the land. On the 50th anniversary of the IRA, a conference was held at Sun Valley, Idaho to talk about the good and the bad of the Act. On the 75th birthday of the Act, there was nothing but silence. Has…

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Tribal Constitutions

Tribal Constitutions

Modern tribal nations pass laws, exercise criminal jurisdiction, and enjoy extensive powers when it comes to self-governance and matters of sovereignty. And of 566 tribal nations, just under half have adopted written constitutions. In the American tradition, a constitution limits the power yielded…

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Indian Pride (Episode 112): Tribal Government Structure

This episode of the "Indian Pride" television series, aired in 2007, chronicles the governance structures of several Native nations in an effort to show the diversity of governance systems across Indian Country. It also features an interview with then-chairman Harold "Gus" Frank of the Forest…

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Josh Gerzetich, citizen of Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
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John Low, citizen of Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

Tribal Enrollment

Tribes have the right to determine their own membership. These criteria for enrollment vary from tribe to tribe. In the Midwest, the criteria are based on descendancy, that is, descent from an individual on a particular roll, as well as, in some cases, blood quantum and/or residency of the…

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Native American Lands and the Supreme Court

Native American Lands and the Supreme Court

Tribal judge and legal scholar Angela Riley (Citizen Potawatomi) spoke in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber about the history of the Supreme Court and Native American lands. The lecture was one in a series hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society on the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and…

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Vine Deloria's Last Video Interview

American Indian author, theologian, historian, and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933-2005) talks with documentary film producer Grant Crowell about traditional Indigenous governance systems and criteria for citizenship, the impact of colonial policies on tribal citizenship (specifically the effects…