Who’s Who of Indigenous Governance – International

Organisations, Projects and Forums

United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) was established by the Human Rights Council, the UN’s main human rights body, in 2007. The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with thematic advice, in the form of studies and research, on the rights of Indigenous peoples as directed by the Council. A series of research, publications and submissions relating to self-governance and Indigenous rights can be located by searching ‘Indigenous Governance’ on their website.

Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada)

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent think tank focused on international governance that supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. The Internationalization of Indigenous Rights and Governance Project examines the impact of international institutions and global governance policy documents in promoting effective governance, legislative protection and culture survival for indigenous peoples. A project brief, related articles and blog posts by associated academics on Indigenous governance are available on the CIGI website.

Centre for First Nations Governance (Canada)

The Centre for First Nations Governance is a non-profit organisation that supports First Nations as they develop effective self- governance. The centre offers a variety of Nation-rebuilding workshops, information and tools. The goal of nation rebuilding is to restore economic prosperity, improve social conditions and bring a renewed sense of honour and well-being to First Nations people and communities. The website features governance resources such as fact-sheets, guides, case studies and video-interviews.

British Colombia Assembly of First Nations

The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is a Political Territorial Organisation (PTO) that represents the 203 First Nations in British Columbia. The BCAFN is working towards meaningful participatory relationships with the provincial and federal governments as well as with industry to close the socio-economic gap that exists for First Nations. The BCAFN website features a Governance Toolkit. The Toolkit provides a guide to nation building and includes a report on; 1. Options for governance reform 2. Core Institutions of governance 3. Powers of the First Nation 4. Financing First Nations governance, a governance self-assessment tool and a guide to community engagement.

The British Colombia Treaty Commission

The BC Treaty Commission is the independent body responsible for facilitating treaty negotiations among the governments of Canada, BC and First Nations in BC. The Commission’s website hosts a Human Resource Capacity Tool for First Nations. This Tool is an instrument to help First Nations strategically plan for their community’s post-treaty human resource and governance needs. It is a practical, efficient tool for First Nations with diverse sets of priorities, capacity levels, and traditions of governance.

Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Māori Development 

Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development, promotes Māori achievement in health, training and employment, education and economic development. The Te Puni Kōkiri website features a section on effective governance, designed to help trustees and directors of Māori organisations with their responsibilities and role as guardians and leaders. The site shares best practice principles on the essential elements of effective governance and insights from other Māori trustees and directors that have followed a variety of pathways to lead their organisations to success.

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University and Research Institutes

Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (U.S) 

Founded by Professors Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt at Harvard University in 1987, the Harvard Project aims to understand and foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations. For over two decades, the Harvard Project has undertaken hundreds of research studies and advisory projects and the field reports, case studies and research publications are available on the Project’s website.

The Honoring Nations Awards Program highlights tribal government successes. Celebrating, documenting, and disseminating the stories of the outstanding programs in self-governance it helps expand the capacities of Native nation builders by enabling them to learn from each others’ successes.

The Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy (U.S) 

The Native Nations Institute is housed at The University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. The Institute serves as a self-determination, governance, and development resource for Indigenous nations in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. Key activities undertaken by the Institute include

Policy Research and Analysis: the policy program seeks to expand knowledge about the issues affecting Native nations, identify and catalog the ways in which Indigenous leaders can continue to improve their tribes’ capabilities and more fully explain the conditions under which Native nations in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere successfully initiate and sustain social and economic development.

Education Programs: the Institute offers courses for Native nations governments and citizens examining the critical governance and development challenges facing Native nations and explores what is working, what isn’t, and why. They also offer customised executive education programs designed to equip tribal leaders with knowledge and tools for Native nation building.

Indigenous Governance Database: the online database features hundreds of resources designed to empower Native nation leaders as they lead their nations in strengthening their governments, fostering sustainable development, and rebuilding their communities. It includes papers, conferences, reports, video, radio, transcripts and links to other online governance resources and education providers.

Indigenous Governance Program; University of Victoria (Canada)

Indigenous Governance Program (IGOV) is part of the Faculty for Human and Social Development, University of Victoria. IGOV conducts research, hosts community projects and offers both Undergraduate and Post-graduate courses in Indigenous Governance including a Master of Arts, Doctorate of Philosophy and a Certificate in the Administration of Indigenous Governments. Academic papers by the faculty, which currently includes Professor Gerald Taiaiake Alfred, Professor Jeff Corntassel, Professor James Hamilton Tully and Professor Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark are available on the IGOV website.

The NCAI Policy Research Center (U.S)

The NCAI Policy Research Center (PRC) is a think tank focused on issues facing tribal communities. The mission of the PRC is to provide tribal leaders with the best available knowledge to make strategically proactive policy decisions in a framework of Native wisdom that positively impact the future of Native peoples. Their research agenda aims to shift the discourse in Native policy from a problem-focused approach to truly proactive, future-thinking strategy development and is tribally-driven. The PRC has a Litigation and Governance research stream and worked with the Native Nations Institute on a project investigating strategies to strengthen the quality of governance in tribal communities.

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Training and Education

The Institute for Tribal Government, Portland State University (U.S) 

The Institute for Tribal Government is part of the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University
in Portland, Oregon. The Institute serves elected tribal governments from across the nation and also provides training to local, state and federal government agencies and others who are interested in learning about tribal government. A primary goal of the Institute, therefore, is to assist tribes who want to cultivate the necessary expertise 
and governance skills from within their own tribe.

Tribal Law & Government Center; Kansas Univeristy (U.S) 

Effectively representing Indian nations and tribes requires an understanding of the laws, history and policies that affect them. The Tribal Law & Government Center at KU Law aims to equip students and legal professionals who will represent Indian nations with the skills necessary to appreciate and strengthen the unique nature of indigenous tribal legal systems.

Indigenous Leadership Management; Banff Centre (Canada)

The Banff Centre is an arts and creativity hub that creates new work, provides resources for collaboration and applied research and conducts training and professional development programs for leadership. One of the development programs offered by the Centre is Indigenous Leadership and Management Development. Designed for Aboriginal leaders and administrators, Aboriginal artists, senior management and personnel working with or within Aboriginal organisations, the program focuses on skills development to achieve organisational and personal goals.

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Journals and Databases


NativeWeb is an international, nonprofit, educational organisation dedicated to using telecommunications including computer technology and the Internet to disseminate information from and about Indigenous nations, peoples, and organisations around the world; to foster communication between native and non-native peoples; to conduct research involving Indigenous peoples’ usage of technology and the Internet; and to provide resources, mentoring, and services to facilitate indigenous peoples’ use of this technology. Search ‘Indigenous Governance’ for a selection of resources, links and publications.

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