The Concept of Governance and its Implications for First Nations


What is governance? What is government? What does each do? And what distinguishes good governance - or good government - from bad? Why is the quality of governance important to the success of human societies? And what is the significance and meaning of self-governance? And What does effective self-governance involve and how can self-governing systems be built?

This paper explores these questions and their implications for First Nations, drawing in particular on a large body of research on governance and development among indigenous nations in the United States and Canada. However, the topic of governance is an enormous one, and we can only begin to address those questions here. 

Native Nations
Resource Type

Cornell, Stephen, Catherine Curtis, Miriam Jorgensen. "The Concept of Governance and Its Implications for First Nations". Joint Occasional Papers on Native Affairs No. 2004-02. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2004. JOPNA.

Related Resources

Indigenous Peoples’ Good Governance, Human Rights and Self-Determination in the Second Decade of the New Millennium – A M?ori Perspective

This brief paper addresses the nexus between good governance, human rights and Indigenous peoples’ self-determination particularly from Articles 3-6 and 46 of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The paper is placed within a Māori good governance context with some broader…

Good Practice Guide: Indigenous Peoples and Mining

It is important that companies take the time to properly understand the communities they work with including their particular context, concerns and aspirations. This Guide aims to assist companies to achieve those constructive relationships with Indigenous Peoples. 

The Governance and Fiscal Environment of First Nations’ Fiscal Intergovernmental Relations in Comparative Perspectives

This paper examines the Canadian Aboriginal fiscal inter-governmental system by comparing it to other countries, and also focuses on the key characteristics of the Canadian system. Over the last 20 years governments have decentralized power and responsibilities in response to an increasingly…