The White Earth Nation


The White Earth Nation

Ratification of a Native Democratic Constitution

Gerald Vizenor and Jill Doerfler
Introduction by David E. Wilkins

112 pages


November 2012


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eBook (PDF)
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November 2012


$16.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The White Earth Nation of Anishinaabeg Natives ratified in 2009 a new constitution, the first indigenous democratic constitution, on a reservation in Minnesota. Many Native constitutions were written by the federal government, and with little knowledge of the people and cultures. The White Earth Nation set out to create a constitution that reflected its own culture. The resulting document provides a clear Native perspective on sovereignty, independent governance, traditional leadership values, and the importance of individual and human rights.

This volume includes the text of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation; an introduction by David E. Wilkins, a legal and political scholar who was a special consultant to the White Earth Constitutional Convention; an essay by Gerald Vizenor, the delegate and principal writer of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation; and articles first published in Anishinaabeg Today by Jill Doerfler, who coordinated and participated in the deliberations and ratification of the Constitution. Together these essays and the text of the Constitution provide direct insight into the process of the delegate deliberations, the writing and ratification of this groundbreaking document, and the current constitutional, legal, and political debates about new constitutions.

Author Bio

Gerald Vizenor is Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author and editor of more than thirty books, including the essay collection Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Survivance (Nebraska, 2009). Jill Doerfler is an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. David E. Wilkins is a professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota and the author of Documents of Native American Political Development: 1500s to 1933.


"[The White Earth Nation provides] a compelling behind-the-scenes perspective on the creation of the White Earth constitution that will be instructive to anyone who is interested in the perplexing but always stimulating topic of indigenous self-government. Few issues are more significant to residents of the Great Plains and the American West."—Mark R. Scherer, Annals of Iowa

Table of Contents

1. Sovereignty, Democracy, Constitution: An Introduction 
 David E. Wilkins
2. Constitutional Consent: Native Traditions and Parchment Rights 
 Gerald Vizenor
3. The Constitution of the White Earth Nation 
4. A Citizen's Guide to the White Earth Constitution: Highlights and Reflections 
 Jill Doerfler
List of Contributors 

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