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Rebuilding Native Nations Course: What I Learned

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I had the opportunity to take the Rebuilding Native Nations Strategies for Governance and Development course offered by the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona. I was lucky enough to take the online course at no charge through an article I saw on ICTMN. The course costs $75 as of this writing and gives much more in terms of educational value.

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The course itself is not very demanding. The instructors are actual Native leaders, many of whom are well known in Indian country. The format is very streamlined, consisting of lectures and reading assignments. The lectures are brief and very informative. The language is down to earth and to the point. The reading assignments are in the same vein and there is no fluff. All of this is reinforced through short quizzes and tests at the end of each component. For a short course, it is packed with some helpful information.

The course overall is a comparison of nation building strategies used in tribal nations across North America in the past and present. As I took the course, I also put the material in a modern context by comparing the methods with the United States nation building effort in Iraq. By the end of the course, I really came to understand why the government’s efforts for tribal nations and Iraq have failed repeatedly.

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The focus of the course is teaching Native people the value of creating a self-determined and self-defined nation. I found it to be very thought provoking as examples of successes and failures of various Native nations are explored. In a nutshell, it teaches that an external agency cannot effectively build the institutions and tools needed for a nation to be successful. These things must be generated by the people being affected—the citizens themselves. It also proves that a nation can have all of the elements to build a nation yet still go wrong due to misplaced effort and misplaced focus. I came away with many ideas that I would like to implement in my own nation. More importantly, the course gives me the confidence that my ideas can work and that one determined person can make a huge difference in many people’s lives.

I strongly recommend this course for any Native citizen. The focus is on leadership, but it is so informative that anyone can get a lot from it. I took the course alone, but I think I would have gotten much more out of it by taking the course in a group setting. The course does have group activities that use discussions and exercises to reinforce and expand upon the material. I would like to thank the Native Nations Institute and the University of Arizona for making the introductory course available at no cost. I can see courses like this being a powerful tool for all Native nations. I hope to take more of their courses in the future and would be willing to pay for this valuable information.

Whether you are a leader or not, this course is well worth the price and time. For more information about the course, and to register visit You will get much more than you bargained for.

Mark Rogers is a citizen of the Montaukett and Matinecock Nations located in Long Island, New York, where he is known as Toyupahs Cuyahnu (Crazy Turtle). He has served as a grassroots activist in the African American and Native communities and is a proud veteran NCO of the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Corps. He is presently working on a writing career and seeks to aid fellow veterans through his writing. See his Facebook page Toyupahs Cuyahnu/Mark Rogers for more of his writing.