Indigenous Governance in the United States and New Zealand

It’s been a long while since I’ve added an update on my work with Indigenous peoples. I had hoped this site would turn into a place where I could share some of the questions that have come about from my work and a place where I could obtain feedback from those interested in similar issues.

Alas, somewhere between finishing my dissertation, welcoming my firstborn Son into the world, and moving to New Zealand, the blog was left to flounder.

My time in New Zealand has been spent with the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre in the Te Piringa – Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato. Having never lived abroad, it has been somewhat of a transition but the work has been interesting and I couldn’t be more please to be working in my field of expertise. And true to form, a lot of questions have come up that I’ve tried to address in various capacities – most directly in the form of a couple of law review articles that are still in the works.

What I wanted to share, for now, is an article I drafted for the New Zealand Lawyer Magazine that applies some of the work done on Native Nation building in the U.S. to the situation of Māori iwi here in New Zealand. The response has been underwhelming so far but I hold out the naive hope that someone will give it a read and seek out further information – including the resources of our centre.

By way of clarification, the point of the article, of course, was not to imply that America has the cure for every conceivable ill that colonization hath wrought. Rather, the point of the article is to suggest that there are enougH similarities between the challenges of indigenous governance in the U.S. and New Zealand that our countries can share lessons and avoid each other’s mistakes.

I conclude the piece with this thought, which more or less summarizes my thoughts on Indigenous governance in general:

Having traversed the desolate plain of trial and error, our tribal nations have experienced federal policies towards Indian governance that have ranged from the outright termination of tribal institutions, to the extant policy promoting tribal self-determination. If Māori can benefit from the troubling lessons of the United States’ past, we should be so fortunate to see something good come from something that was objectively rather grim. [Link]

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