Native Governance Center Established to Advance Sovereignty

Wayne Ducheneaux, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has been hired as the inaugural Executive Director of the Native Governance Center (NGC).

With operations based in St. Paul, MN, the organization works to assist tribal nations in strengthening their governance systems to exercise their sovereignty. As Executive Director of NGC, Mr. Ducheneaux will work with representatives from the 23 politically-distinct Native nations sharing territory within Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“As a new organization, one of our first steps will be carrying forward the work of the Bush Foundation’s nation building initiative,” said Ducheneaux. “This effort includes continuing the Bush Foundation’s well-known Native Nations Rebuilder’s leadership development program.”

In its seven years of existence, the Rebuilder’s program has graduated over 100 leaders from Native communities all across the region. The graduates have gained valuable insights and skills on grassroots nation building strategies. Recruitment of candidates to participate in Cohort 8 will begin this summer.

“The Bush Foundation is committed to continuing its nation building work in partnership with the Native Governance Center,” says Jen Ford Reedy, President of the Bush Foundation. “It’s reassuring to know that the Rebuilder’s Program is in good hands, and that the Native Governance Center is planning to substantially expand its reach and impact.” As part of Bush Foundation’s commitment, Jaime A. Pinkham, former Native Nations Vice President at Bush, is serving as a Senior Advisor to NGC through a loaned executive agreement.

As an independent and separately incorporated non-profit entity, the Native Governance Center has its own board of directors whose elected members include: Cris Stainbrook, Board Chair (Oglala Lakota); Tadd Johnson, Board Treasurer (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa); Joe Kalt, Board Secretary; Frank Ettawageshik, Board Member (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians); Jodi Gillette, Board Member (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe); and Tracey Zephier, Board Member (Cheyenne River Sioux).

Beyond conducting the Rebuilder’s Program, the NGC staff and Board of Directors plan to focus on pursuing four key strategies in the months ahead.

  1. Inspire and celebrate Native nation building in the region.
  2. Build human capital to help support tribes in their work.
  3. Work side-by-side with tribes to create and implement solutions.
  4. Provide a conduit for resources between tribes and funders.

“NGC looks forward to building upon the outstanding efforts of the Bush Foundation as we look to support Native Nation building efforts among tribal leaders, tribal members and tribal communities,” says Ducheneaux.