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Today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced the formation of a new branch within its organization: the NCAI Sovereignty Institute, aimed at enhancing and supporting tribal governance in Indian Country.

The Sovereignty Institute will help develop usable data and resources to support tribal self-governance, according to NCAI’s press release. Included under the Sovereignty Institute will be NCAI’s Policy Research Center, Leadership Development and Tribal Programs, and Civic Engagement.

“New initiatives like the Sovereignty Institute are a result of building a grounded yet forward-thinking plan for NCAI, informed by the priorities of tribal leaders representing every corner of Indian Country,” NCAI President Fawn Sharp said in a statement. “We have many exciting things planned this year and we look forward to doing our part to help shape tribal governance in the 21st Century and to chart a new and prosperous path forward for Native peoples.”

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Also today, the group announced the theme for its mid-year conference, set to take place this summer in Anchorage, Alaska: Thinking Beyond Self-Determination. 

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Sharp said the theme “sets the stage” to usher in a new era of proactive strategy, advocacy, and governance throughout Indian Country.

“The formation of the Sovereignty Institute at NCAI will provide innovative tools and resources to support Tribal Nations as they work to define this new era on their own terms,” she said.

To register for this year’s conference, or to learn more, visit ncai.org.

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Jenna Kunze
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Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 U.S. journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Alaskan Arctic region. Prior to that, she served as lead reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.