Site Map

I. DEFINING: What Is a Constitution?

1. What is a constitution?
  • Why do constitutions matter?
  • Do constitutions need to be written down?
2. Is a constitution just a western idea?
  • How did Native nations govern themselves prior to colonization?
  • Did Native nations have constitutions before the European invasion?
  • What were the effects of colonization on Indigenous constitutions?
3. How does our Native nation currently govern?
  • Where does our current constitution come from?
  • Some rules exist outside written constitutions
4. What’s happening to Native nation constitutions today?
  • A groundswell of reform
  • Innovation and diversity

II. DEVELOPING: What Kind of Constitution Do We Need?

1. Does our Native nation need to launch a constitutional process?
  • The big-picture questions our nation needs to ask…
  • What is and isn’t working in our current governing system?
  • How much change is needed?
  • Are there traditions or practices that our Native nation wants to include?
2. Key questions our Native nation may want to address in our constitution
  • Who are we? What is our place in the world?
  • What are our values and aspirations as a people?
  • Who are the citizens of our nation?
  • Who has responsibility for what?
  • How do we make decisions?
  • How do we make and enforce law?
  • How do we resolve disputes?
  • How do we choose our leaders and hold them accountable?
  • How do we relate to other peoples and governments?
  • How specific should our constitution be?
3. Some emerging trends in constitutional change
  • Integrating core values, language, history
  • Rethinking the collective “self” in self-government
  • Giving the community a greater voice in governance
  • Longer and staggered terms for those in leadership positions
  • In the United States, removal of the Secretary of the Interior approval clause

III. CHANGING: How do we make change happen?

1. Effective strategies for constitution-making and constitutional change
  • Civic education for the community
  • A politically independent constitutional commission
  • Broad-based citizen participation
  • Flexibility on what gets considered when
  • Accessible language
  • Provision for amendment
  • Formal approval
  • Financial support for the process
  • Time and patience
2. Examples of successful approaches to citizen engagement
  • Websites & blogs
  • Small forums & meetings
  • Newspaper articles & newsletters
  • Constitutional conventions
  • Youth engagement
  • Social media

IV. LIVING: How do we live with our new constitution? 

1. Change is just the beginning
2. Some strategies in support of implementation
  • Reorganizing government to support the new constitution
  • Changing the nation’s political culture
  • Ongoing civic education
  • Interpreting the constitution
3. Looking ahead