Native Governance Center

Strengthening Native nations through leadership development and governance resources

About Native Governance Center

Native Governance Center is a Native American-led nonprofit organization that assists Tribal nations in strengthening their systems of governance and capacity to exercise sovereignty. The organization was created in response to a need identified by Tribal leaders representing the 23 Native nations in our region. These leaders expressed the need for an organization that would meet the expanding demand for Tribal governance-related resources and sustain this work into the long-term future. Native Governance Center works at the intersection of leadership development and Tribal governance support.

Leadership Development

Native Nation Rebuilders 

Native Nation Rebuilders is a two-year, cohort-based initiative designed to help participants develop the knowledge, skills, and connections they need to effectively lead nation building efforts. When we say nation building, we mean the processes by which a Native nation enhances its own capacity for effective self-governance. Rebuilders access ideas and information, build their networks, and learn leadership skills. They then develop and implement action plans for nation building projects within their communities. Enrolled members of the 23 Native nations sharing territory with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are eligible to apply. Applications for the program open every summer; apply online at

Youth Rebuilders

Youth Rebuilders is our newest offering and grew out of the Native Nation Rebuilders program. It’s a summer experience that equips Native youth with nation building training to develop the next generation of Native leaders.

Tribal Governance Support

Native Governance Center provides Tribal governance support in three main areas: 

Customized Tribal Assistance

Native Governance Center helps Tribes create and implement governance solutions through technical assistance and consulting services.

Tribal Resource Grants

Tribal Resource Grants help connect Native nations to resources—expertise, knowledge, education, and additional funds—to strengthen governance.


Native Governance Center works with Tribes to host large- and small-scale educational convenings, in addition to holding several educational events open to the general public each year.

Why Nation Building?

Why is there a need for nation building in the first place? The reason largely boils down to the negative impacts that colonization, and more specifically, the Indian Reorganization Act, had on Native nations. In the 1930s, after decades of promoting harmful assimilation policies, the United States government decided to take steps toward restoring Native self-governance and passed the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) in 1934. While on its face, the IRA sounds like a positive change for Indian Country, it actually resulted in the development of constitutions based on non-Native models and the continuing promotion of assimilation. In fact, many of the governments created during this period directly conflicted with the political traditions of the Native nations they were supposed to govern. The IRA ignored the fact that many Tribes still had elders who remembered the traditional forms of government in place before the federal government attempted to erase them. Instead of creating constitutions based on the cultures and traditions of Native people, the IRA imposed foreign systems modeled after colonial governmental structures.
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