Governance and Legal Development

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No government is perfect, but Indian tribal governments face special challenges in operating effectively and achieving the full potential of their tribal citizens. Indian tribal governments have been subjected to generations of control and interference by the U.S. federal, and sometimes state, governments and must meet modern challenges with often ill-suited and flawed governing structures. This often leads to crises in government that unfortunately frustrates aspirations for forward progress.

Robert Odawi Porter has been involved in tribal government and politics as a constitutional reform advisor, a legal development architect, and as an elected tribal political official. He has helped Indian people improve their governments by designing and implementing improved constitutions and laws and helping them manage and mitigate the effects of political crisis. If governing opportunities or challenges arise, he can be an invaluable advisor.

Constitutional and Legal Reform

Tribal governments cannot effectively function unless they have a solid governing foundation that is supported by their citizens. In too many places in Indian Country, tribal constitutions are inadequate to harness the democratic spirit of the people and channel it to productive uses.

Similarly, to function effectively and establish stable political and business relationships, tribal governments must have written and codified laws, reliable procedures and regulations, and stable business entities and administrative units.

Odawi Tribal Strategies can help you assess the effectiveness of your constitutional system and, if necessary, advise you on developing a constitutional reform process. We can also assist you in developing the legal infrastructure necessary and management policies necessary to achieve your desired governing or business objectives.

Crisis Management

Indian nations and tribes, like all governments, periodically face crisis originating from internal or external circumstances. In such times, it can be important to have strategic advice on how to minimize potential consequences and ensure restoration of normal operating conditions as soon as possible.

Odawi Tribal Strategies has experience handling the types of crises faced by tribal governments. Such engagements are typically short-term and we can respond quickly to any situation as circumstances dictate.

Political Consulting

Most Indian tribal governments are democracies and select their leaders through electoral process. Candidates looking to successfully pursue tribal public office have the same needs as candidates for office in any electoral democracy.

Odawi Tribal Strategies is experienced in winning tribal elections. We can serve as your advisor in developing a winning electoral strategy and assisting you in implementing your strategy to victory.

Tribal Court Development

One of the most important areas of tribal government engagement is the dispute resolution process. Whether the disputes arise between private individuals, or as complaints against tribal officials, tribal governments must have courts and alternative dispute resolution procedures in place to ensure that naturally occurring human conflict gets addressed in a respectful manner.  A well-functioning court system promotes sovereignty as citizens resolve disputes within their own nations, rather than relying on the ill-fitting laws and procedures of the federal and state governments.  Failing to provide a well-functioning court system can produce unnecessary misery for not just the individuals involved, but for entire tribal communities.

Odawi Tribal Strategies partners with Professor Carrie Garrow (, a tribal chief judge and expert in tribal court development, to assist tribal governments in improving their dispute resolution systems.