In 2009, Gerald Vizenor, UNM Distinguished Professor of American Studies, was both a delegate and principal author of the first constitution to be ratified by a native group. The White Earth Nation of Anishinaabeg Natives of Minnesota ratified their new constitution, marking the first indigenous democratic constitution.

The White Earth Nation includes the text of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation; an introduction by David E. Wilkins, a legal and political scholar who was a special consultant to the White Earth Constitutional Convention; an essay by Vizenor; and articles first published in Anishinaabeg Today by Jill Doerfler, who coordinated and participated in the deliberations and ratification of the Constitution.

Together these essays and the text of the Constitution provide direct insight into the process of the delegate deliberations, the writing and ratification of this groundbreaking document, and the current constitutional, legal and political debates about new constitutions.

Many native constitutions were written by the federal government, and with little knowledge of the people and cultures. The White Earth Nation set out to create a constitution that reflected its own culture. The resulting document provides a clear native perspective on sovereignty, independent governance, traditional leadership values and the importance of individual and human rights.

Vizenor is also a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author and editor of more than 30 books, including the essay collection Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Survivance (Nebraska, 2009). Doerfler is an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Wilkins is a professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota and the author of Documents of Native American Political Development: 1500s to 1933.

The White Earth Nation is due out in early November by the University of Nebraska Press.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: