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GBLA Resource: Native Advisory Councils as a Way of Restoring and Strengthening Native Sovereignty

If you are looking to share and give back and give Indigenous communities a seat at the table and a voice to be heard and the respect that has long been denied our people and our ancestors, if you’re willing to make a difference there, I think a Native Advisory Council is the perfect way to do that.” -Clint McKay, Pomo and Wappo of Dry Creek Rancheria

Steps to Land Back: Native Advisory Council at Pepperwood Preserve



Here, at Redbud Resource Group, we are often asked by a variety of community organizations, “How can we support Native communities in our local area?”


This month, we have taken a closer look at Native Advisory Councils as one of the many ways to support Native communities in restoring and strengthening Native sovereignty.


Clint McKay, a member of the Native Advisory Council at Pepperwood Preserve, met with Redbud staff this past fall to share his perspectives on what it takes to make a successful Native Advisory Council.


The following are things to consider before creating a Native Advisory Council:

​Do:

  • Begin with connecting with Native communities local to your area

  • Know the difference between an advisory council and a board or other types of governance or leadership

  • Be clear and transparent about your intentions of establishing a council

  • Practice flexibility and be open to unfamiliar leadership structures/council designs

  • Be patient

  • Be willing to build long last relationships

  • Practice reciprocity and respect

Do Not:

  • Extract knowledge from Native communities

  • Make decisions without consent

  • Assume leadership styles are the same or that Native peoples do not know how to lead or govern

  • Select the members of the council or determine the guidelines of the council

  • Expect relationships to be short term


Whether or not you decide to create a Native Advisory Council for your organization or business, Clint suggests “to think long and hard” about what you are asking of the Native communities before taking on this kind of commitment, or when asking Native communities to share their knowledge.


After all, “You are asking people to share of themselves and of their ancestors, of their ways that have been protected for many, many generations.” Thus, if you are willing to support restoring and strengthening Native sovereignty through respect, reciprocity and building long lasting relationships with the Native communities in the places you call home, then and only then consider creating a Native Advisory Council.



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