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Declaration of Title & Rights Update

A constitution can be written or unwritten, it is the set of values, principles, and rules that a community or Nation uses to govern itself. Most human communities that persist over time rely on broadly understood rules that tell community members how to behave, who can do what, how to relate to the natural world, and so forth. Such rules may be better known to people as, “how we decide things and how we do things,” or “how we take care of ourselves, our family, the land, and the animals,” or “how we’re expected to behave as a member of this community,” but they are constitutions nevertheless. 

Our Haíɫzaqv Constitution is being created to articulate foundational aspects of our legal order. The Haíɫzaqv Constitution is the q̓íkas Ǧvı̓ḷás of the Haíɫzaqv Nation which provides highest written expression of Ǧvı̓ḷás, reflecting the paramount values of the Haíɫzaqv Nation.

Our Nation’s constitutional law are the deepest expression of its culture. Our constitution will say who we are, what our values are, how things ought to be done in our society, what we want for our community and our children and our grandchildren.

What is a Constitution?

Current Constitutional Status of the Haíɫzaqv

The Haíɫzaqv Nation is governed by our own unwritten legal order based on our Ɫáxvái and Ǧvı̓ḷ̓ás. This unwritten set of rules and processes can be seen in the relationship between HTC and hereditary leadership and formalized by the MOU. The task at hand is translating how we already govern into written form. 

Currently our Haíɫzaqv governance is subject to the oppressive Indian Act. With the creation of our constitution we are beginning to move away from the Indian Act on an incremental basis through the Haíɫcístut process. This is the reclamation of our governance as the rightful governors of ourselves, our Nation, and our territory.

Traditional Laws Reflected in a Modern Constitution



We are incorporating our Ɫáxvái and Ǧvı̓ḷás into the constitution and these two meta-legal principles are guiding the drafting of the constitution. This is part of the resurgence of our laws and governance system. This is the practice of Ɫáxvái while reclaiming jurisdiction over the governance of our home territory and continuing to Káxḷáya Ǧvı̓ḷ̓ás.

Our constitution will Address Topics Such as:


  • Who are we as a people? Where are we from?

  • What do we value?

  • How do we make decisions? Who has authority over what?

  • What kinds of relationships do we expect to have with each other, with outsiders, and with the world around us? How do we choose our leaders?

  • How do we deal with disagreements or disputes among us?

  • How do we organize to get things done?

  • How do we relate with other peoples and governments?


Constitutional Drafting Process

Constitutional Drafting Process

Constitutional Drafting Process

Over the years many people have assisted in the Haíɫzaqv constitutional drafting process. There are too many to list, but most recently Mike Vegh, Turza Lawson, Pauline Waterfall, Chris Lechkobit-Carpenter all contributed it. 

Currently, we are editing the last four chapters of the constitution. These are short chapters. Once these are edited. There is also the definitions section, and the appendices that need to be edited. Then we are doing the formatting and layout of the constitution as a whole to ensure it’s one coherent document. Then finally, it will be brought to the Language Authority Board to ensure all the Haíɫzaqvḷ̓a words that are in the constitution are being used correctly and the Haíɫzaqvḷ̓a spelling is correct. Saul Brown has been discharged the responsibility of this work by the Haíɫcístut (reconciliation) steering committee.

The next step is Haíɫzaqv community engagement. There has been a lot of work done in this regard to date. Informational newsletters, pamphlets, and films have been created about our constitutional journey. As the constitution nears the ratification process, community engagement will need to increase.

We have had one legal review and had many Haíɫzaqv eyes and minds review the constitution to date. Once the next version of the constitution is done, it will be brought to joint leadership for review. Once that is approved, another formal legal review will be required, this can be done at the same time as we do our community engagement.

Finally, community and legal feedback will be incorporated into the final iteration of the constitution and the ratification process will start. 

This ratification process will include a rigorous and in-depth community engagement aspect to ensure that all community members are informed about the constitution. This is a paramount part of the constitution, so our people know the constitution, see themselves reflected in it, and see the value in it. Once the ratification vote happens and depending on if the community decides to adopt it, we will then turn our minds and hearts to how we will ratify this constitution under our Ǧvı̓ḷás and through our culture.

Proposed Next Steps

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