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Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK)

Tribal Equity Toolkit

The Native American Program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon, the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, the Western States Center, the Pride Foundation and Basic Rights Oregon collaborated on the nation’s first guide for Two Spirit and LGBT equity in Indian Country. 

We’re pleased to share that the Toolkit version  2.0 is now available!

Download now (PDF)


Join us November 21 to celebrate the Toolkit 2.0


As sovereign nations, tribal governments maintain the power to determine their own governance structures, pass laws, and enforce laws through police departments and tribal courts. Tribal governments provide multiple programs and services, including, but not limited to: social programs, first-responder services, education, workforce development, and energy and land management. They also build and maintain a variety of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public buildings.

Historically, many Indian tribal governing documents (like tribal constitutions), are patterned after the U.S. constitution. This means that the underlying assumptions of who is being served, who is a citizen, and other normative assumptions undergird many tribal governance documents.  These founding documentslike the U.S. Constitutionoften assume that citizens are genderless (therefore men) and have no sexual orientation (therefore are straight), leaving those that do not fit the assumed normative criteria unrecognized and unprotected by law.  

Read more about the history of and need for this Toolkit

Hope & Action

“This Toolkit provides us with an opportunity to…enshrine, in policy and Tribal Law, our continued commitments to justice and to demonstrate, to the larger public, Equity as an enduring community value.”  

— Robert Kentta, Siletz Tribal Member, Cultural Resources Director, Tribal Council Member, and Gitauk-uahi (Two Spirit)

When the Toolkit was announced at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians after a short 15 minute presentation, nearly 50 Tribal Leaders signed on in support of their Two Spirit citizens and LGBT justice in Indian Country.  This support tells us that Indian Country in the Northwest is ready!  However, publications like this are only beneficial if they are put to action. 

Indian Country Today’s article about the Toolkit presentation at ATNI can be found here

Tribal Community Mapping and the Toolkit 2.0

During the course of 2013, IWOK and Western States Center built awareness and use of the Tribal Equity Toolkit. This included conducting a comprehensive mapping project to identify leaders and tribes who are ready to engage in the next steps of implementing the Tribal Equity Toolkit.

The Toolkit author group, under the leadership of NAPOLS, also compiled additional model policies and enhanced sections of the Toolkit and an enriched version is now available. We have developed a Continuing Legal Education and training course for Tribal Law attorneys to help assure that as Tribes move forward with changing laws, there are experienced attorneys they can call on, to be offered in 2014. 

Click here to download the Tribal community mapping presentation delivered September 2013 at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Click here to download the Tribal Equity Toolkit 2.0

Learn more about the IWOK Program

Growth of this work relies on you! How can we support you in your work supporting Tribal Equity?

Please click here to submit questions, feedback, and requests for support.  


Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK)

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