Tribal Sovereignty Institute to be Formed at UMD

MN Indian Affairs Council Signs Resolution to Support Establishment of Tribal Sovereignty Institute

The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, which represents members from each of Minnesota’s 11 tribes, has signed a resolution to support the establishment of a Tribal Sovereignty Institute at UMD.

This is the result of a three-year consultation process between UMD’s American Indian Studies department, the 11 Indian tribes of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council with the shared a goal of promoting the understanding of tribal sovereignty through education and research.

The formal creation of the Institute builds upon work already happening at UMD, where more than 1,000 state employees have recently received training about American Indian history, the unique status of tribes as sovereign nations, and how to engage with tribal governments.

The Tribal Sovereignty Institute also fulfills Governor Mark Dayton’s executive order (13-10) to strengthen tribal relationships with state government agencies, as well as UMD’s mission of serving the educational needs of indigenous people.

“We believe this partnership with Indian tribes is a win-win for the University and the Native Nations of Minnesota,” says Tadd Johnson, director of Graduate Studies in the American Indian Studies department. “We intend to devote a great deal of time and effort into making the Institute a fully-staffed, fully-functioning partnership with Indian tribes.”

“Here in the American Indian Studies department we take our responsibility toward Tribes seriously,” says Jill Doerfler, department head of American Indian Studies.

“Some of our faculty are already engaged in research partnerships but having the Tribal Sovereignty Institute will facilitate more research that serves the needs of Native Nations.”

The American Indian Studies department will serve as the administrators for the Tribal Sovereignty Institute.

The next step in the process is developing bylaws and further formulating the entity.

Throughout the process, Johnson says that Indian tribes will mandate this direction.

“Their ideas drive the research that we do. With the Institute, we can actually sit down and dialog with Indian people and find out what we can do together.”

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