Native Nation Rebuilders Program

Native Nation Rebuilders Program

The Native Nation Rebuilders Program is a leadership development program for Native American leaders in our region. We built the program for citizens of the 23 Native nations in our region who have a passion for learning about innovative tribal governance practices, and how they can take these ideas and approaches to their own Native nations to make a positive difference. We create a "cohort" of about 30 tribal citizens each year so they can learn together and gain insights and strength from each other. To date, the Foundation has selected six cohorts of Rebuilders.

Meet the newest Rebuilders


Native Nation Rebuilders Cohort 6 (Photographer Bruce Silcox)
Native Nation Rebuilders Cohort 6 (Photographer Bruce Silcox)

Native Nation Rebuilders Speak


Rebuilders Cohort 5
Rebuilders Cohort 5
Program experience

Each year, the Bush Foundation selects a cohort of approximately 30 “Rebuilders” to participate in a two-year program. In the first year, the Foundation and its partner, the Native Nations Institute, provide access to ideas and information, expanded networks, leadership training and other resources for nation-building. Rebuilders participate in four in-person sessions (three days each) and complete assignments between these sessions.

In the second year, Rebuilders use the knowledge and skills gained in the program to implement "action plans," in which they engage in practical nation-building projects within their communities.

We aim to select tribal citizens who have a strong interest in tribal governance, whether they are elected, working for a tribal program, or want to be highly engaged citizens. Rebuilders must make a serious commitment to the program - we feel strongly that each piece of each session is vital to the learning and group experience, so participants must commit to attending every session, from start to finish.

What we Fund

We aim to make participation in the program free of cost to Rebuilders. The Foundation will cover the cost of instruction, materials and facilitation for Rebuilder events, the cost of transportation and meals to and from events, as well as meals and lodging while at events.


Applicants to the Native Nations Rebuilders Program:

  • Must be at least 25 years of age by the date of the first session (December 2, 2015).
  • Must be an enrolled member of one of the 23 Native nations in the Bush Foundation region.
  • Must currently live in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations.
  • Must be interested in learning about Native nation-building.
  • Must be willing to attend all four in-person sessions and complete assignments between these sessions.
How to apply

Rebuilders applicants complete an online application and submit references from two non-relatives who are familiar with their values, character and goals.

Applications for Cohort 7 are now closed.

Selection criteria and process

A selection committee composed of individuals with expertise in nation-building will evaluate each Rebuilder candidate according to his or her commitment to Native self-governance, leadership experience, knowledge of the issues facing his or her nation and potential to help his or her nation.


Applications closed on August 27, 2015, at noon Central (11:00 AM Mountain).

Other important dates in the annual process include:

  • Selection committee meets to choose Cohort 7 - mid-September 
  • We notify candidates of the selection committee's decision - late September
  • First meeting of Cohort 7 - December 2-4, 2015 (in Twin Cities, Minnesota)
  • We announce Cohort 7 - mid-December
Upcoming Session Dates
  • Cohort 6 & 7:  December 2-4, 2015 (Twin Cities, Minnesota)
  • Cohort 7: April 27-29, 2016 (Spearfish, South Dakota)
  • Cohort 7: September 28-30, 2016 (North Dakota)
  • Cohort 7: November 30-December 1, 2016 (Twin Cities, Minnesota) 
We're here to help

Please contact Catherine McGuire at or 651-379-2259 if you have questions or need assistance.

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