Tribal Governance Projects

Initiative on Improving State-Tribal Relationships

Work groups have involved over thirty key state elected legislative members and tribal leaders from approximately twenty tribes. A series of meetings has been conducted by the NIARI, which acted as a facilitator. The Institute staff has organized, coordinated and prepared background materials and assembled resource people for these sessions, including a statewide conference held at the Longhouse for all legislative members and tribal leaders. As a result of this Work Group, a Legislative Resolution was drafted and introduced by members of the legislature to create a Joint Interim Committee on State-Tribal Relations. If the working group is successful in the next legislative session, the NIARI anticipates it will assist in the staffing of this Committee Targeted Audience: Tribal and state elected officials and other key policy staff was and will continue to be the targeted audience for this initiative because of their policy and decision-making authority to implement necessary legislation and tribal resolution and subsequent committee appointment authority.

Tribal Government Administration Curriculum Development for the MPA

The Institute has been collaborating with the Evergreen Director of the MPA Program in research, design and development of curriculum needed to support a future degree to be offered in Tribal Government Administration. A survey of tribal government leaders and staff in the Northwest revealed a high level of interest in graduate studies that would equip tribal members for the increasingly complex work in administration of tribal governments. No other college or university in the US currently offers such an advanced degree or professional credentials that reflect in-depth specialization in contemporary tribal governance subject areas. Evergreen's MPA Program has received approval from the Board of Trustees and the State Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop and offer such a program and it is now part of Evergreen's 2001-03 Biennial budget request. If funded, it would open in Fall 2002. Institute support for this effort has included curriculum and faculty development programs and we will be making available expertise on tribal government issues from around the United States. Targeted Audience: Tribal experts in the field of administration, natural resources, finance, intergovernmental relations and human resources will be the focus for the program development component. Once the program is operational, persons with a high interest in working within tribal communities will be targeted for the academic program.

Implementation of Welfare Reform in Indian Country

In response to the request of the Tribal Relations Office of the State Office of Economic Services, the Institute assisted in preparation and facilitation of a recent state-wide meeting of high ranking state and tribal officials on coordinating the implementation of welfare reform. As a result of Institute involvement, the tribal caucus at the meeting developed a comprehensive program of policy initiatives that would address the needs of tribal government social service offices. The tribes have been experiencing common difficulties in participating in data collection, child care assistance programs and work first training with the state. Tribal recommendations at the meeting drew parallels with the very successful federal tribal self-governance program of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service as models for tribal participation in welfare reform/TANF. Targeted Audience: Tribal elected officials and key state policy staff is involved in this on-going work group to implement the federal law of Welfare Reform in Indian Country. Because of their authority and responsibility to implement these new laws, the tribal and state officials are the targeted audience for this initiative. Tribal communities experience some of the highest unemployment and lowest educational attainment statistics in Washington, when fully implemented, Welfare Reform will have significant impact on Indian Country in Washington State.

Products: State-Tribal Fiscal Relations: Administration of Federal and State Funds...; Executive Summary/Table of Contents (20k pdf), Full Report (400k pdf).

A Caucus of Native Leaders, Activists and Academics

This meeting was held on January 28 & 29, 2000 at the Evergreen State College Longhouse to discuss Self-Governance, Political Consultation, International Indigenous Rights and Tribal Rights, and Cultural Resources. The Institute hosted the Caucus in which 35 renowned tribal representatives attended and participated from throughout the United States, Canada and Central America. The Caucus was also attended by students from the Native American and World Indigenous Studies Program, as well as faculty of Evergreen. The Caucus was video taped by the Media and Video staff of Evergreen, and Evergreen students. The Institute will be creating at least four educational videos on these topics for use in the classroom. Targeted Audience: Tribal political leaders, educators and long-time activists were strategically targeted for participation at this gathering because of their years of experience and extensive expertise in the broader tribal/indigenous communities.

Curriculum on Tribal Issues in Washington State Public Schools

The Institute has agreed to work on the development of curriculum on NW Tribes that matches the Essential Learning Requirements for Washington State History and Social Studies. The project will create a series of lesson plans for use in the public schools that will provide information on tribal governance, federal Indian law and policies, history, culture and contemporary issues. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Evergreen Center for Educational Improvements. Native American students who recently graduated are from the Master in Teaching programs at Evergreen are our principal researchers. Targeted Audience: As the Lesson Plans are completed they will be made available to teachers in both public and private schools for use in the social studies area. It has long been recognized that factual accounts of Indian-White relations and federal-tribal history have been either lacking or distorted in the public school curriculum. Therefore, the target audience for this project is statewide.

Products: Culturally Responsive Curriculum for Secondary Schools