About the Project for Indigenous Self-Determination (Project ISD):


The Project for Indigenous Self-Determination (Project ISD) was founded in 2010 and is an organization that is committed to the right of self-determination for all indigenous peoples worldwide. Project ISD believes the path to meanigful self-determination for indigenous peoples takes many different forms. Indigenous peoples are continually finding new and innovative solutions to the various problems they face and, in the process, are finding better and better ways to exercise self-determination. Documenting and sharing these stories of indigenous self-determination is a primary objective of Project ISD’s work.

Project ISD also believes that while Indigenous peoples must be proactive in exercising their rights, much can still be done to convince governments (and the rest of the world) that indigenous self-determination is a right that must be promoted and supported. As such, Project ISD is also dedicated to producing valuable research for the purpose of promoting indigenous self-determination among all audiences.


Project ISD is the manifestation of a vision to take a lot of the ideas of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, and look at how they can be used to implement international indigenous law put forth by organizations such as the United Nations, International Labour Organization, and the Organization of American States. For us, Chile is the starting point for the organization’s work, although we are always looking for opportunities to be useful anywhere.


Project ISD’s mission includes a mandate to share ideas and knowledge about indigenous self-determination. Thus, we are available for presentations, workshops, seminars, panels, and other events. We also services as consultants and/or instructors on a variety of topics, including:

  • Accessing/Understanding the United Nations’ human rights system

  • Accessing/Understanding the Organization of American States’ human rights system

  • Government systems

  • Indigenous self-determination (lessons from 40 years of indigenous self-determination in the United States)

  • Indigenous rights in the United States


Laura Seelau graduated from the University of Arizona with degrees in Law (J.D.) and Latin American Studies (M.A.). She has experience working for the United Nations on projects related to indigenous peoples. Specifically, she studied under and worked for James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples. Laura is an expert on international law and has presented on the topic in both English and Spanish on numerous occasions.


Ryan Seelau received his law degree (J.D.) from the University of Iowa, and then went on to receive advanced degrees (LLM and S.J.D.) from the University of Arizona in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy. His most extensive work experience is with the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy in the areas of general research and curriculum development. He has, however, also worked with a number of different organizations on indigenous-related projects in areas as diverse as: justice systems, economic development, and health. His expertise is grounded in U.S. Indian Law, and more generally, in governance structures and theory.