On the journey to self-government, “Shortcuts” can be useful.  Welcome to our new series of high-level briefings on key governance issues, designed for First Nations councils and administrators or anyone who needs a quick introduction to topics like consultation and accommodation, or “FPIC”.  The briefings are short, easy to read, and packed with lots of references for those who want to explore the topic more on their own.  Let us know what you think, and feel free to suggest other First Nations governance topics you’d like to see in this series by dropping us a note at

Aboriginal Title, Consultation and Consent

On the duty to consult and accommodate

UNDRIP in the Canadian Context


Indigenous Culture in Contemporary Indigenous Government: Some Examples from Native Nations in the United States

Stephen Cornell and Miriam Jorgensen

This paper is less concerned with the right to govern than with the how of governing. Its focus is on the Indigenous experience in the United States: How are Native nations in the U.S. incorporating aspects of culture—including their own governmental traditions—in building effective governments today? It is organized around six topics or tools of governing: constitutions, citizenship, dispute resolution and the provision of justice, law-making, the selection of leaders, and child welfare. Within each section the authors offer examples of Indigenous nations considering—and usually drawing on—their own cultural resources to address contemporary governmental tasks.

The choice of topics and examples is not meant to be exhaustive. The purpose is to illustrate and capture at least some of the diversity of Indigenous nations’ efforts to draw on their own rich governmental principles and traditions in addressing the challenge of governing effectively on behalf of their own purposes.

The full article can be accessed here: Cornell & Jorgensen – Indigenous Culture in Contemporary Indigenous Government: Some Examples from Native Nations in the United States

Cornell is Faculty Chair of the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona where he is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Emeritus Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. He also is co-founder and Emeritus Director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (today the Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development).

Jorgensen is Research Director of both the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and the Harvard Project on Indigenous Governance and Development.

Rekindling the Fire: Carleton Research Project hosts gathering for First Nations pursuing self-government

Rekindling the Fire, a gathering co-coordinated by both the Centre for First Nations Governanace and the Rebuilding First Nations Governance Project, offered First Nations across Canada a space to discuss how to re-establish their traditional forms of government and leave behind the Indian Act.

The two-day event included ceremony, panels, speakers and workshops to help First Nations partnered with RFNG and CFNG take back control over their communities from Canadian colonialism.

Check out the article from our Rekindling the Fire Gathering here.

Welcome Darcy Gray!

The Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) research project is very pleased to announce that Darcy Gray has joined the team as National Community Research Director. Darcy will play a leadership role to help ensure our partner community research requirements are matched with expertise and resources and help regional researchers and First Nation community members draw out and share the stories, learning and teachings about their experiences in a way that can be shared with other First Nations who are just starting the transition to self-government. The full release can be viewed here: News Release – Welcome Darcy Gray

Welcome Dr. Giuseppe Amatulli!

RFNG is very pleased to welcome Dr. Giuseppe Amatulli to the project team. As post-doctoral Research Fellow, he’ll play a key role in our program of research and analysis.   Giuseppe completed his PhD in socio-legal anthropology from Durham University (U.K.) in 2022, with his doctoral research focussed on the Doig and Blueberry River First Nations in Canada.  Giuseppe sees RFNG as a unique opportunity to merge different aspects and features of anthropology, legal disciplines, and public policy with the potential of producing cutting-edge results in terms of legal and policy needs of those First Nations transitioning out from the Indian Act. Read his full bio here.

Inherent Rights Youth Initiative Storytelling Series

The Rebuilding First Nations Governance Project along with the Centre for First Nations Governance have organized a series of virtual gatherings focused on creating a new memory in the minds of our children and youth. Building on traditional stories from Elders across the country, this year’s Inherent Rights Youth Initiative will support a diverse group of First Nations youth from across Turtle Island in an online learning space, by virtually visiting five of our partner communities (Star Blanket Cree Nation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Lil’wat Nation, Listuguj Nation, Upper Nicola) as they share stories with us on the CFNG’s five pillars of effective governance.

Check out the graphic harvests and articles from our sessions!

The Pathfinders Series

The Rebuilding First Nations Governance Project is chatting with movers and shakers advancing First Nations’ inherent right to self-government in Canada. Part Q&A and part F.A.Q, The Pathfinders features members of our project and others talking about why self-government matters to them and why it should matter to you.

Check out our feature articles!

Summer Update 2022

Check out our Summer Update 2022!

2022 Lawmaking for Nation Rebuilding Think Tank

How First Nations are reclaiming their right to self-government Written by Ben Sylvestre

In addition to this article, RFNG is producing a range of in-depth case studies based on its Spring 2022 Lawmaking Workshop to be released over the coming weeks. To view all currently available entries in this series, please go to our publications page.

New Publication!

Chapter 20: How First Nations are Transforming Public Policy through the Courts Written by Satsan (Herb George), Kent McNeil, Frances Abele, from E. Lindquist, M. Howlett, G. Skogstad, G. Tellier, P. ‘t Hart. eds. Policy Success in Canada: Cases, Lessons, Challenges. Oxford University Press, 2022.

RFNG Co-Director Frances Abele appointed to the Order of Canada

The Rebuilding First Nations Governance Project’s co-director Frances Abele has been appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to public policy as a leading scholar of northern and Indigenous political development.

Press Release – Frances Abele appointed to the Order of Canada

Five Linguistic Methods for Revitalizing Indigenous Laws

McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming

Naoimi Metallic, RFNG collaborator, Assistant Professor of Law, and Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy at Dalhousie University provides a personal and inspiring look at how Indigenous languages can inform the development and implementation of Indigenous legal orders. Reflecting on her own personal journey to learn her Mìgmaq language combined with her expertise as a legal scholar, she argues in this draft article there are many ways even non-speakers can “unlock the treasures to be found in Indigenous languages.”

Winter Update 2022

Wondering what we’ve been up to and what the plans are for the months ahead?  Take a quick break and read our Winter Update 2022