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Constitution and Code Drafting for Alaska Tribes


Date: May 20 - 21, 2021
Time: 12:30 p.m. EDT; 11:30 a.m. CDT; 10:30 a.m. MDT; 9:30 a.m. PDT; 8:30 a.m. AKDT
Duration: 4 Hours/Day
Location: ONLINE - VIRTUAL TRAINING
Tuition:   $849

Attend this LIVE, ONLINE TRAINING presented by our expert, who will be using all the interactive training tools used in the classroom and more. Youíll be able to ask questions, respond to polls, and collaborate with others. Donít let anything interrupt your training needs. Join us online and experience a different way of learning! Please click here for Virtual Training FAQs.


Your constitution is the guide to governing your tribe. It is the cornerstone of a stable tribal government and skillfully balances the rights of the people against those of the government. A well-written constitution and the codes that accompany it promote respect from other governments and institutions, protect Native cultural activities and traditions, and provide for a smooth flow of government and continuity between administrations.

During this class, Alaska tribal government expert Lisa Jaeger* will help you discover how your constitution impacts the way you govern; give you tools to help you use your constitution to manage your tribal organization; show you how to work within the bounds of your constitution as you develop ordinances; and illustrate how to amend your tribal constitution to meet the needs of your growing and changing tribe. If you havenít developed a constitution, youíll learn the functions and purposes of a constitution, key elements of the writing process and what components to include.

If youíre an elected tribal official, part of the tribal administrative staff or a BIA employee with responsibilities related to tribal governments, this class will offer the insight and skills to meet the governing challenges that tribes in Alaska face today.

*Instructor subject to change.


T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Tribal Cultures and Constitutions
  • Balancing tradition with current demands
  • Incorporating cultural values
  • Maintaining your history
Federal Control of Tribal Constitutions
  • Indian Reorganization Act (IRA)
  • Amendments to the IRA
  • Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA)
  • Case law
Constitution Functions and Purposes
  • Traditional forms of organization:
    • Separation of powers
    • Tribal government models
  • Promoting good government
  • Removal of federal intervention provisions
  • Interpreting constitutional language:
    • Constitutions as seen by courts
    • Avoiding conflict
  • Stability of tribal governments
  • Why constitutions fail:
    • Tribal members’ expectations
    • Unrealistic goals
Writing the Constitution
  • Drafting the constitution
  • The outline — what to include
  • Legal writing using plain language
Features and Considerations
  • Preamble
  • Territory and jurisdiction
  • Adoption and certification
  • Membership and rights of members
  • Enrollment and elections process:
    • Blood quantum
    • Certificate of results of election
  • Sovereign immunity
  • Tribal governmental power:
    • Roles of officers
    • Removal from office and forfeiture
    • Filling of vacancies
  • Council meetings
  • Popular participation in tribal government
Beyond Constitutions
  • The use of ordinances
  • Drafting codes that outline:
    • Tribal laws
    • Election procedures
    • Tribal court structure
  • Authority, purpose and scope
Resolving Conflicts and Challenges
  • Strengthening tribal sovereignty
  • Transitions of power
  • Enforcing the constitution
  • Informing tribal members
  • Case studies
Checks and Balances
  • Separation of powers:
    • The tribal general council
    • Executive, legislative and judicial authority
  • Role of elders, clans and societies
  • Role of men and women
Revising and Amending the Constitution
  • Determining needs and outcomes:
    • Public input
    • Impact on existing constitution
    • Intended and unintended consequences
  • The process
  • Adoption procedures
  • Harmony within the constitution
The Ratification Process
  • Organizing and staffing for adoption success
  • Analyzing your community
  • The constitution survey
  • Political support for change
  • Education and community meetings
  • What can go wrong?

*Topics subject to change.

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