Tribal Government
The following materials are intended to extend lessons found in the
Foundations of Democracy text and to build on previously taught concepts.

Purpose of lesson
•  Detail the extent and limitations of tribal government authority.
•  Become familiar with local tribal governments by accessing websites.

Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Social Studies
C.12.2 Describe how different political systems define and protect individual human

Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Language Arts
E.12.1 Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information

Terms to know
consensus – decision making based on agreement among all members of a group
General Council – tribal governing body
majority rule – decision making based on agreement among
more than half of the members of a group
reorganize – to change the form of something
Tribal Council – tribal governing body
Tribal Governing Board – tribal governing body

Traditional positions of authority among Native Americans
Before European settlement, traditional clan chiefs governed Native American tribes. These clan chiefs earned leadership positions based on inherited membership into a specific clan, along with acts of bravery, wisdom, and patience. In order to make decisions for the tribe, chiefs practiced consensus decision making, which meant that all members of leadership had to come to an agreement on which course of action to take.  Each tribe had its own clan system, with varying numbers of clans and types of earth and sky beings. All clan systems had and continue to have rules governing behavior.

Critical Thinking Exercise — Evaluating Consensus Decision Making
Have you ever been a member of a soccer team? Imagine that the members of your group were responsible for choosing a new uniform. In order for your group to receive the uniforms, all the members of the group would have to agree on the same style, color, and logo.
1.  What are some obstacles that you would face while trying
to come to an agreement among all members of your group?
2.  What would be some benefits of requiring agreement among
all members of the group before taking action?

How have the positions of authority among tribes changed?
In 1934, the United States Congress passed a law called the Indian
Reorganization Act. This law required tribes to reorganize their tribal
governments to become similar to the United States government. Consequently,
tribes wrote constitutions detailing the structure the future governments would
take. They also included the duties, powers, privileges, and limitations of
future tribal governments. Tribal councils or general councils now lead all
tribes in Wisconsin. These leaders are chosen through secret ballot elections.
Tribal councils govern with through the use of majority rule decision making,
which involves agreement by more than half of the members of the council.

Intellectual Tool Chart — Identifying Duties and Powers of Modern Tribal Governments
Please see the chart. [ student handout ]
1.  Forest County Potawatomi Executive Council
2.  Ho-Chunk Nation General Council
3.  Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribal Council

Using the Lesson
After completing the Intellectual Tool, use the previous websites to complete
the Venn Diagram identifying the similarities and differences between the U.S.
government and modern tribal governments. Consider the following:
1.  names and numbers of positions of authority
2.  election process
3.  duties and powers
4.  limits on power
5.  qualifications for office
6.  term of office

Venn Diagram — U.S. Federal Government/Modern Tribal Governments
Please see the diagram. [ student handout ]