Nation Building Toolboxes are online, mixed media, learning tools which can assist in meeting the needs of Indigenous leaders and decision makers. Assembled from the real-world experiences of hundreds of Native nations, the toolboxes serve as a central resource of information on how to implement and sustain best practices in community self-governance. They are hosted and curated by the Native Nations Institute (NNI) at the University of Arizona and the Project on Indigenous Governance and Development (Harvard Project) at Harvard University, and feature contributions of partners with valuable knowledge to share. 

The self-guided toolboxes enable Nation Builders to explore, develop and manage their understanding of key functions of tribal, First Nation, and other Indigenous governance structures and strategies.  The Toolboxes provide Nation Builders with learning activities and resources they can use to assist Indigenous communities in their drive for self-determination. The content is supplemented with case studies, lessons learned, and first-hand explanations by fellow decision makers who have tackled the challenges of strengthening their own communities.  

We can’t tell you what will work for your community, but we do hope that having access through these toolboxes to the lessons from, and experiences of, other Native nations will provide you with ideas and useable starting points as you tackle your own community’s needs.

what will you find in a toolbox? 

To get started, these guides take you through key questions in order to help you organize and process relevant information. Use these guides and manuals to develop step-by-step strategies for strengthening your government’s structures. 

Online exhibits, profiles and maps show you the nuts and bolts of how Native nations have built their programs and accomplished their goals.  Take online tours of successful programs and see for yourself how you can bring the lessons home. 

What do successful programs look like in a Native nation? Find out with case studies and research reports on successful and awarded efforts from around the world. Go ahead and poke around with Research on What Works to learn what other Indigenous managers and decision makers are doing in their communities. 

Get up close and personal as leaders tell their own stories of success and share their opinions and advice. Through video recordings, leaders share their challenges, successes, and even failures, illustrating the critical decision and process points that they had to face and overcome. 

Take your understanding of lessons to the next level with the actual laws, codes, regulations, resolutions, and policies adopted and implemented by Native nations.  Use these examples as starting points and make them your own. 

We know teachers are always looking for ways to share lessons in their classroom, so we have assembled some of our most useful and free teaching resources. These resources can be used for classroom activities and creative teaching ideas to help you plan your next lesson on Indigenous self-government.

There are many outstanding organizations working to support Indigenous sovereignty and self-government.  Dip into a well of resources made just for you! Helpful Links is a centralized page listing more nation building organizations, programs, and topics. Browse. Click. Explore.

who is a nation building toolbox for? 

A Nation Building Toolbox is a collection of some of our most-used tools, examples, and lessons. Elected officials, managers, decision makers and others in leadership positions can build their own toolboxes by selecting components that might work in their own communities.  These resources are free for you to use and share—and we hope you do.

how to build your own toolbox

When we say "build your own", what we really mean is take whatever you like from our toolboxes and creatively build what you need in your journey of teaching, sharing, and/or building your community’s capacities for self-determined, self-governed progress.  Here you will find a vast selection of reports, demonstrations, videos, maps, and research. Each community has its own history, culture, values, needs and concerns.  What worked for one Native nation may not work for another.  So, take whatever you think you need from the raw materials in these toolboxes. 

Below are instructions on how to save and add resources to your toolbox. The only thing you need to get started is a free Gmail account and you can begin building your own toolbox today. 

Build Your Own Toolbox_ How To Guide.pdf