Tribal Sovereignty Institute

Ojibwe woodland floral design

The mission of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute (TSI) is to promote tribal sovereignty through education, outreach, research, tribal consultation and partnerships with Native Nations.

The TSI offers short course certificates, applied research, and serves as a hub for tribal-university engagement and partnerships. 

The TSI was established as a result of consultation sessions related to degree programs. Elected Tribal leaders advised the faculty of the Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota Duluth, to establish a Tribal Sovereignty Institute. They did so in 2013. The Department further consulted with Native Nations in the region and throughout Indian County to further develop the mission, goals, objectives and structure of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute (TSI). The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council was established as the advisory board to the TSI.

Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Resolution

TSI Guiding Principles:

1.  Respect for sovereignty and self-determination
2.  Consultation with Native nations
3.  Engagement in research projects and partnerships with Native nations
4.  Commitment to student and community education

Programs and Projects

Certificate in Tribal Administration and Governance (CTAG) is a two-phase program aimed at building foundational knowledge and skills within the civil service ranks of tribal nations. It features a summer academy on tribal sovereignty and governance management, collaborative project-based peer mentoring, and a fall symposium on applied governance, and a winter retreat focused on problem-based learning. Apply for the 2024 CTAG Program!

 Tribal-State Relations Training, as required by Minnesota Statute 10.65, prepares state agency employees with the knowledge and tools to consult with tribes on matters of mutual interest. The mission of the TSRT is to provide training and education for Minnesota state employees about American Indian tribal governments, histories, cultures, and traditions in order to empower state employees to work effectively with American Indians, and promote authentic and respectful relationships between state agencies and American Indian tribes. This short course certificate program is made possible by a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and UMD and is endorsed by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. 

Tribal Administration Handbook is designed as a readable, accessible volume focused on key areas of tribal administration and governance. It serves practitioners, students, researchers, and community members alike.

In addition, of particular note are collaborations between the TSI and the Native Governance Center (NGC). One example would be the participation of the NGC executive director as a guest presenter during a recent iteration of the CTAG program. Another would be extensive NGC-commissioned work undertaken by TSI-affiliated faculty from UMD's Department of American Indian Studies to develop new material and updated curricula for the Native Nation Rebuilders program. 

The Tribal Sovereignty Institute is funded through fee-based services and generous gifts from Native Nations, foundations, and donors. Please consider providing support for the Tribal Sovereignty Institute.