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Tribal Constitutionalism    

 Image credit: Great Stupa of Boudhnath, Kathmandu valley, Nepal. By Jean-Marie Hullot - originally posted to Flickr as All-Seeing Wisdom (Bodnath, Nepal), CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This month, we focus on Kirsty Gover’s Tribal Constitutionalism, now available in Oxford Constitutions of the World. 

Recognized tribes are increasingly prominent players in settler state governance, but in the wide-ranging debates about tribal self-governance, little has been said about tribal self-constitution. Who are the members of tribes, and how are they chosen? Tribes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States are now obliged to adopt written constitutions as a condition of recognition, and to specify the criteria used to select members. Tribal Constitutionalism presents findings from a comparative study of nearly eight hundred current and historic tribal constitutions, most of which are not in the public domain.

Kirsty Gover examines the strategies adopted by tribes and states to deal with the new legal distinction between indigenous people (defined by settler governments) and tribal members (defined by tribal governments). She highlights the important fact that the two categories are imperfectly aligned. Many indigenous persons are not tribal members, and some tribal members are not legally indigenous. Should legal indigenous status be limited to persons enrolled in recognized tribes? What is to be done about the large and growing proportion of indigenous peoples who are not enrolled in a tribe, and do not live near their tribal territories? This book approaches these complex questions head-on.

Using tribal membership criteria as a starting point, this book provides a critical analysis of current political and socio-legal theories of tribalism and indigeneity, and draws on legal doctrine, policy, demographic data and tribal practice to provide a comparative evaluation of tribal membership governance in the western settler states.

Beginning last month and over the next few months, we will be publishing the tribal constitutional texts referred to in Gover’s book.

Learn more about Tribal Constitutionalism, by reading the freely available Introduction.

Image credit: Corroboree by William BARAK - Wurundjeri people (1824 - 1903) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Site News

June 27, 2016

June 2016 Update Live

36 new constitutional documents, covering 36 tribal (sub-national) constitutions in Australia added to OCW 

May 31, 2016

May 2016 Update Live

14 updated constitutional & commentary documents, covering 3 countries and 10 tribal (sub-national) constitutions added to OCW

May 6, 2016

Celebrate Mother’s Day

Celebrate the US holiday of Mother’s Day with some motherhood related constitutional law provisions from around the world.

April 22, 2016

April 2016 Update Live

14 updated constitutional & commentary documents and 4 new monographs added to OCW




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