Building strong sovereign nations

Anishinabek leadership for seven generations.

In the Spring of 2005, Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with the MSU Native American Institute (NAI) and several tribal Michigan governments, began developing a training program for newly-elected tribal leaders. The goal of the Building Strong Sovereign Nations (BSSN) program is to “collaborate with the Indian tribes of Michigan to create a capacity building training curriculum that is based on the needs identified by key tribal stakeholders.” The program is designed to the specific needs of the twelve federally-recognized tribal governments in Michigan. The primary audience is newly elected tribal council members, tribal members serving on governmental committees and/or advisory boards and tribal members who are considering running for tribal leadership positions in the future.

Elected tribal officials learn some of the basic principles and skills of tribal governance. The BSSN program currently fills an educational need by offering affordable, regionally-specific trainings within Michigan. However, the program content may be highly relevant to tribes throughout the Great Lakes Region and may be offered to these tribes in the future. The BSSN program has been offered at various tribal locations throughout the state. Currently, BSSN is offered in conjunction with the United Tribes of Michigan October quarterly meeting.

The next training is October 24, 2013 from 8 a.m.  – noon. There are four core modules that are facilitated at every annual training:

  • Historical Overview: Anishinaabek Tribes in Michigan and The Interaction with State and Federal Governments
    • Jo Anne Gasco, Tribal Council Member, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
    • Frank Ettawageshik, Executive Director, United Tribes of Michigan
  • Leadership: Ethics, Roles & Responsibilities
    • Robert Kewaygoshkum, Tribal Council Member, Vice-Chair Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
    • Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension Educator, MSU Extension
  • Fiscal Management in Indian Country
    • John Amrhein, Public Policy Educator, MSU Extension
  • Conducting Effective Meetings
    • Bethany Prykucki, Leadership and Government Educator, MSU Extension

To learn more about, Tribal Governance programs, Government and Public Policy and the Leadership and Community Engagement programs offered through MSU Extension, please contact Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or

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