We would like to hear from people who are involved in tribal constitutional reform. What issues are you facing and what are your hopes for the future?
Hundreds of activists and several tribes have been involved in a campaign to strengthen tribal governments, in a bid to give them a firmer footing as sovereign nations. The Standing Rock protests in North Dakota last year became a symbol of the struggle for Native American empowerment, but this campaign to reform tribal constitutions has been running quietly for years.
In the 1930s, tribes were handed boilerplate constitutions and there was an expectation then that they would eventually be folded into local governments. Instead, in 1975, tribes were given the right to self-determination. Critics of the system have said there has been corruption for years that has often put the interests of council members and their families ahead of the tribe. They’re advocating for constitutional reform to enable tribal governments to better deal with the realities of modern governance, such as negotiating oil and gas deals with massive conglomerates.