Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 19.1 (Spring 2009): 135-136. © 2009 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Rebuilding Native Nations is a powerful restatement and reconsideration of American Indian self-determination, a federal policy approaching five decades in age. Its essays draw upon more than a decade of tribal success stories collected and celebrated by the Harvard Project. Individual chapters focus on particular subject areas such as tribal economic development, intergovernmental relations, and tribal constitutional and tribal court development. The authors draw out commonalities about successful nation building in tribal communities, theorizing an underlying basis, and leading readers to understand how to replicate that success. The chapter on tribal courts by Judge Joseph Thomas Flies-Away, Judge Carrie Garrow, and Miriam Jorgenson, coupled with a chapter by Joseph Kalt on tribal constitutions, demonstrates how a separate and functioning judiciary can assist with building tribal economies by protecting through the rule of law on-reservation investment by outsiders. Sarah Hicks’s chapter on intergovernmental relations shows how tribes can smooth over jurisdictional conflicts, helping better to regulate everything from the environment to taxation to law and order in Indian Country. The chapter on the underrealized potential of tribal citizen entrepreneurship will be especially important to Great Plains tribes without a significant gaming market.