Creating a vision for your Tribe is a very powerful process. It is what the Tribe believes are the optimal conditions for your community. Whatever your dream is, it can be defined by one or more vision statements. When others talk about seeing the big picture it starts with having a clear vision. The vision should include as many different stakeholders as possible and it should be a good cross section of the entire community. The answer to all your problems should come from the people you serve.

Vision statements should include the following:

  • Understood and shared by a significant number of the community
  • It should be broad enough to include a good cross section of the Tribe
  • Inspiring and uplifting for all involved
  • Easy to communicate to others
  • Some areas it might include are:
  • Having healthy children
  • A quality education for all children and youth
  • Adequate housing for all Tribal members
  • Greatly reduce the number of people who are addicted to drugs
  • Have our Tribal language revitalized


The Mission statement describes what the Tribe is going to do and why it will take that action. Mission statements are more concrete and specific than vision statements and they are more “action-oriented.” It may refer to a specific issues such as strengthening our Tribal sovereignty or preserving our cultural heritage.

The mission statement should be:

  • Concise-Usually in one sentence
  • Outcome oriented-Explain outcomes your Tribe is working to achieve
  • Inclusive-Do not limit your strategies or who should be involved

Here is one from the Klamath Tribe.

“The mission of the Klamath Tribes is to protect, preserve and enhance the spiritual, cultural and physical values and resources of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin peoples by maintaining the customs and heritage of our ancestors. To establish comprehensive unity by fostering the enhancement of spiritual and cultural values through a government whose function is to protect the human and cultural resources, treaty rights, and to provide for the development and delivery of social and economic opportunities for our People through effective leadership.”


Core values are also very important and should be developed along with the vision and mission statement. They provide a set of principles which let those who work for the Tribe and those who are served by it what you stand for. Often times they are based on traditional values that the Tribe has. You ask the people to brainstorm what are some important values for them personally and then you ask them which ones they would like to see followed in the work environment. If you have a code of ethics you follow you can include these values there as well. Some common ones are honesty, respect, compassion, generosity, courage, and integrity. There is no magic number but it is common to see anywhere from five to ten. It is better to have a limited number that people can remember as they are more likely to adhere to them. We can take you through a process which will help your organization or team to identify their core values. These operational principles will inspire and motivate your staff and those you serve.