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How costly is it to Fix your Governing Documents?


Actually, the question should be, how costly is it NOT to fix your governing documents? (Constitution, By-Laws, Ordinances, Policies and Procedures)

Think about this: something in your constitution or ordinance is unclear, so you call the tribal attorney or someone on the Council and discuss it for X amount of time. 

Someone else calls someone else to discuss the same matter and comes to a different conclusion.  At the next meeting you argue over who is right.  And the process repeats itself over and over again. 


How much time is spent in meetings trying to figure out who should be doing what, who is right or who is in charge of what?  And how often do disagreements boil over to something else?  Now add up all the times this has happened and ask yourself this question: 


How costly is it not to fix your governing documents?

Clarity is King


Language means different things to different people.  Whenever people find a loophole that works to their advantage, they will use it. Tribal members are not served by leaders who argue endlessly over language.  When it comes to your governing documents, clarity is king and should never be compromised.


It’s what we do…


CSN will smoothly, economically, efficiently and successfully change your governing documents to meet the demands of modern sovereignty.   

CSN specializes in the drafting of simple, concise, easy to read governing documents.  The average reader should be able to pick up your constitution and understand exactly what they just read.  If they can’t, then maybe it’s time to do something about it.

Let’s look at an example taken from a current tribal constitution and one of the problems it created


The Constitution Reads as Follows: 


The Chair of the Tribal Council shall preside at all meetings of the Tribal Council.  The Vice-Chair shall preside in the absence of the Chair.  All meetings of the Tribal Council shall be conducted using Robert’s Rules of Order.  Whenever a conflict arises between Robert’s Rules of Order and this constitution, the constitution shall prevail.


Under Robert’s Rules of Order, the Chair is allowed to relinquish or vacate the Chair whenever he or she feels strongly that there is a compelling reason to enter into debate and vote.  In this case, the vice-chair assumes the position of the Chair.  The Chair is in effect, absent as the Chair.  


Recently, at one of their Tribal Council meetings, the Chair opted to vacate the Chair and asked the Vice-Chair to assume the Chair’s position.  The Vice-Chair agreed and the meeting continued, sort of.  First, a prolonged debate ensued as to the legality of what the Chair had done. 


Some argued that the Chair was not absent and must preside at all meetings because the constitution takes precedence over Robert’s Rules and it is stated clearly.  The Chair and his supporters argued that the Chair was, in effect, absent as the Chair and entitled under Robert’s Rules of Order to vacate the Chair and fully participate in the debate and the vote and that this is consistent with the constitution. 


The argument raged and consumed most of the meeting and little or nothing of the agenda was accomplished.  


What would have made a difference?   Here are two possible corrections:


The Chair of the Tribal Council shall preside at all meetings of the Tribal Council.  The Vice-Chair shall preside in the absence of the Chair and/or when requested to do so by the Chair.  




The Chair of the Tribal Council shall preside at all meetings of the Tribal Council.  The Vice-Chair shall preside only in the physical absence of the Chair.  

Do you need help writing, updating or revising your governing documents? Do you need some advice on what the next steps should be?

Send CSN-DCI America a copy of the governing document(s) you need assistance with and we will review your document(s) FREE of charge and will advise you on possible changes that can help clarify and strengthen your Tribe's Governing Documents. 

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