The Self-Government Department has three main focus areas:
1) Self-Government
2) Whitecap Dakota Constitution
3) Whitecap Dakota Governance Code

Our staff works closely in consultation with Chief and Council, the Self-Government Advisory Committee, Elders and community members to ensure that these projects are sensitive to Dakota perspectives, culture and customs.

Self-Government Negotiations

Whitecap began the process of self-governance on April 27, 2009, when the community gave its mandate to Chief and Council to begin the process of getting out from under the Indian Act. Since then, negotiations have taken place between the Government of Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation to negotiate terms of the self-government agreement. The primary objective of the self-government initiative is to have WDFN recognized as a self-governing First Nation alongside federal and provincial governments and restore the balance of power to Whitecap Dakota First Nation. Self-governance allows communities to shape their social and economic well-being. Under self-government, bands develop and enforce their own laws regarding education, culture, finance, and lands. The Minister of Indian Affairs will no longer decide which laws could be passed, or which priorities are important. The community would become the ultimate authority over its own affairs in almost all of the sections of the Indian Act. Our governance structure will be developed by our members through a community constitution and our government will be accountable to our own members.

The road to self-governance consists of four key stages:

1) Framework Agreement

2) Agreement-in-Principle

3) Final Agreement – Whitecap Dakota is currently negotiating the Final Agreement with Canada

4) Implementation

Current Status of Negotiations

In 2017, Whitecap Dakota First Nation Council and the Government of Canada signed the Governance Agreement- in- Principle (GAIP). The GAIP is the second of four steps along the path to self-governance. It lays out a new governance structure for Whitecap Dakota First Nation that will replace the Indian Act, which gives First Nations only limited control over their own affairs. The WDFN Agreement-in-Principle, developed after consultation with the community, outlines how WDFN governance will be structured, and what law-making powers it will have. In short, it ensures that WDFN itself has the power and the jurisdiction to make its own decisions on matters affecting the community. The Agreement-in-Principle has set the stage to strengthen WDFN’s ability to promote and protect its own culture, language, and history, and continue to develop its economic successes. Signing the Agreement-in-Principle committed the Government of Canada and WDFN to working towards the Final Agreement together, with a target date of 2021 to bring the Final Agreement to a community vote. The GAIP is an important step in this process, as it lays out the elements that will form the Final Agreement. Work on the Final Agreement will include settling on fiscal arrangements that support sustainable self-governance Currently, work is underway to complete the Final Agreement to bring forward for a community vote in 2021. Community consultation and engagement is a key focus area for WDFN self-government department at this time to ensure members are informed and up to date on the negotiation process.

If you would like more information on our engagement plans, or to learn how to get involved, contact

Whitecap Dakota Constitution

The Whitecap Dakota Constitution will serve as the supreme written law of the Whitecap Dakota Nation, replacing the Whitecap Dakota Band Council, which is established through the Indian Act. By replacing the Indian Act with our own systems and authorities, it will allow the Whitecap Dakota Nation to be strengthened through strong governance and will support and legitimize the Self-Government Agreement.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation Council and staff have worked with numerous community groups, including the elders, to ensure that the aspirations and unique desires of the Whitecap Dakota Nation are included. Most recently, in August 2019, staff and Council worked with the Advisory Committees to review the current constitution development process. We will continue to work with the community with further workshops and opportunity for input in the coming months. The Whitecap Dakota Constitution will:

  • Serve as WDFN’s founding law which asserts its inherent right and implements the self-governance agreement with Canada Establish and provide legitimacy for the Whitecap Dakota First Nation Governance Agreement
  • Describe the beliefs, principles and values that guide our Nation Describe our government, our power and authority
  • Honour and uphold Dakota traditional ways of life to best promote the welfare of the community and future generations of WDFN
  • Serve as a framework for governance and describes how decisions will be made
  • Establish how laws will be enforced and how disputes will be resolved
  • Be a vital building block for continued sustainable economic development and self-sufficiency

Whitecap Dakota Governance Code

The Whitecap Dakota Governance Code is currently being developed in consultation with the community, committees and Council. The Code outlines the structure and composition of the Whitecap Dakota Government, the Code of Conduct, Duties, Accountabilities and Powers of Council, Procedures Relating to Council, and Law-making Processes and Procedures. In the coming months, work will continue on the development of the Governance Code in consultation with the community, elders, committees and staff.


Contact us at or at 306-477-0908