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Our Mission and Vision

Anchor 1

Our mission is to enhance and strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice while honoring community values, protecting rights, and promoting well-being.


Our vision is to empower Native communities to create and control their own institutions for the benefit/welfare of all community members now and for future generations.

Our Objectives

Anchor 2
  • To help create and support institutions and systems that work toward improving the welfare of Native communities, including future generations.


  • To support tribal sovereignty and autonomy.


  • To facilitate the empowerment of all Native individuals and communities that have suffered from abuse or abusive historical practices and policies.


  • To enhance the development of resources by making more options available, providing resources and tools for developing tribal sovereignty, and developing model service delivery systems that meet the needs of individual Indian communities in a culturally appropriate manner.


  • To assist tribes in building the capacity to be self-reliant by utilizing tribal members to meet the internally defined needs of the tribe.

Our Philosophies
Anchor 3

Philosophy on sovereignty and historical context:

  • We acknowledge that tribal governments have the inherent capacity and responsibility to effectively respond to issues, disputes, crimes, and crises within their communities.

  • We seek to empower tribal communities to build upon inherent strengths as sovereign nations.

  • We believe that tribal sovereignty and tribal self-determination are critical for the healthy functioning of tribal communities.

  • We believe that addressing tribal issues in contemporary times requires a thorough examination of the historical relationship between individual tribal nations and the federal, state, and local governments.


Philosophy on victimization of Native people and tribal communities:

  • We acknowledge that colonization happened and understand that it has ongoing impact.

  • We believe that past institutionalization of biased policies and practices have created an environment of disparity and despair in parts of Indian Country.

  • We believe that Tribes and individual Native people have suffered and continue to suffer from ongoing unjust policies and practices that have worked to prevent fully empowering tribes as sovereigns and Native people as self-reliant citizens of Indian Nations.

  • We believe that the response to all violence should include adapting culturally respectful solutions that do not compromise the safety of individuals or communities.


Philosophy on victimization in tribal communities:

  • We believe victims of crime have inherent rights that should be honored and upheld by all governments.

  • We seek to empower victims of crime rather than pathologize their response to victimization.

  • We believe that tribal communities have a long history of providing support and services to victims of crime, and contemporary responses should enhance these inherent strengths.

  • We endorse safety for victims, accountability for offenders, and accountability for governmental entities for prevention of offenses and the rehabilitation of offenders or the segregation of those offenders when that will protect the community.

  • We believe that all governments must be accountable for the safety of their citizens.


Philosophy on gender-based crimes:

  • We believe there is a disproportionately high rate of violence committed against Native women.

  • We acknowledge that prior to colonization, women had revered and respected roles in tribal communities.

  • We believe that colonization has had a disparate impact on women and has promoted violence against Native women.

  • We endorse the reclamation of traditional beliefs about the sacredness of women.

  • We believe that the response to violence against Native women must be framed within an empowerment model.


Philosophy on how we work with tribal nations:

  • We recognize tribal communities themselves are the source of cultural knowledge and legal authority through leaders, elders, and culture-bearers.

  • We believe that tribal communities should control the design and form of their laws and the enhancement of their governmental institutions.

  • We believe that tribal laws should be developed through a representative and inclusive community-based process.

  • We commit to designing “do-it-yourself” tools that can be tailored for the needs of particular tribal communities rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

  • We commit to identifying and working with local consultants and those with expertise in the targeted communities.

  • We commit to working with those organizations that are willing to be accountable to tribal nations and that support our mission.

  • We commit to making resources readily available in a variety of formats at the lowest cost possible.


Philosophy on Alaska Native issues:

  • We recognize and respect the right of Alaska Native villages to express and assert their sovereignty on their own terms.

  • We recognize Native peoples in Alaska have unique histories and challenges that are distinct from those in Native nations in the lower 48.

  • We recognize that statewide organizations and regional organizations representing Native communities do not often have consensus on how to address social and justice system problems.

  • We believe it is essential to collaborate and coordinate with a variety of entities, especially those that share the Institutes mission and philosophies.

  • We believe it is essential to have responses tailored to the local Alaska Native communities.


Philosophy on terminology:

  • We acknowledge that words and labels have tremendous power, especially when referring to the identities of indigenous peoples.

  • We believe that Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-identify and we respect their choices on how to identify themselves.

  • We believe that no single term is acceptable by all indigenous people.

  • We acknowledge the importance of reflecting the sovereign status of tribal nations through words such as “nations” and “governments.”

  • We acknowledge the importance of reflecting the political identity of members of tribal nations through the use of the word “citizen.”

  • We will use the terms “tribal nations,” "Native nations," "Indian nations," “tribes,” “Alaska Natives,” “indigenous nations” and “indigenous peoples” interchangeably to refer to indigenous peoples in a collective sense.

  • We mean to include Alaska Natives when using the term “tribal.”

Philosophy on Indian Nations’ collaboration with state and federal entities:

  • We believe that Indian Nations’ collaboration with state and federal entities should recognize and validate tribal sovereignty and recognize and respect local cultural differences.

  • We believe that trust is earned and built over time.

  • We believe that Indian Nations’ collaboration with state and federal entities has potential to greatly enhance program integrity and effectiveness.

  • We believe that a successful collaboration commences with mutual respect and continues with shared vision and shared responsibility.

  • We believe that not ALL issues can be solved by collaboration, but we also believe that ALL problems can be improved upon by collaboration.

  • We believe that collaborations involve two equal and willing partners that strive for the mutual benefit of both parties.

  • We believe that successful collaborations need to be built on a foundation of understanding the cultural differences and historical realities in local communities.  An educational component has been very successful in many collaborations.

  • We believe that locations for collaborative meetings should be alternated and include at least half the meetings in the Native community, whenever possible, to further the bi-lateral exchange and educational component.

  • We believe that collaborations are necessary to maximize resources for all involved and ensure cultural integrity.


Philosophy on research in Native communities:

  • We acknowledge that a history of unethical research has negatively impacted tribal communities; examples include publishing private ceremonial information and using medical specimens for unauthorized purposes.

  • We believe that research within Indian country should focus on areas that will provide a primary benefit to community well-being and knowledge. That benefit should be defined by tribal leadership.

  • We believe that research activities should acknowledge and celebrate cultural/tribal gifts and strengths that can uplift families and communities.

  • We believe that research methodologies should be mindful of tribal culture and tradition; as well as show appropriate respect for victims of crime, elders and children.

  • We believe that whenever possible, all data and knowledge gained from research should be returned to the community.

  • We believe in respecting privacy and confidentiality of all research participants, as well as the privacy and confidentiality of tribal culture, such as traditional and spiritual ceremonies, when appropriate. 

  • We believe in the rights of research participants, particularly victims, to review research they participated in, and if they so choose, to decide to be left out of research results. 

  • We believe that tribal research review boards are an important aspect of tribal sovereignty and their permission should be sought when appropriate.  When there is no research review board, the approval of tribal leadership should be sought.

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