First nations seek to re-build cultural identities as nations in order to challenge their disintegration by others in the creation of their own states.
Association of First Nations National Chief Matthew Coon cited the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (released in 2001 by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard) proposal of a Nation Building Model of Economic Development.
The definition centers around the building of democratic processes, but many argue that the use of the military to bring about democracy may be inherently contradictory.
Whether nation-building can be imposed from outside is one of the central questions in this field, and whether that can be done by the military is a further part of the question.
By Carolyn Stephenson January 2005 Nation-building is a normative concept that means different things to different people.
The latest conceptualization is essentially that nation-building programs are those in which dysfunctional or unstable or "failed states" or economies are given assistance in the development of governmental infrastructure, civil society, dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as economic assistance, in order to increase stability.To understand the concept of nation-building, one needs to have some definition of what a nation is.Early conceptions of nation defined it as a group or race of people who shared history, traditions, and culture, sometimes religion, and usually language.The project defined Nation-building as: "Equipping First Nations with the institutional foundation necessary to increase their capacity to effectively assert self-governing powers on behalf of their own economic, social and cultural objectives."  The study identified four core elements of a nation building model: 1) genuine self rule (First Nations making decisions about resource allocations, project funding and development strategy), 2) creating effective governing institutions (non-politicized dispute resolution mechanisms and getting rid of corruption), 3) cultural match (giving first nations institutions legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens), and the need for a strategic orientation (long-term planning).One of the reasons for the difficulties of what many consider "failed states" is that some peoples who had been integrated were taken apart by European colonialism, while others who were separate peoples were integrated together in new states not based in common identities.While in Europe nation-building historically preceded state-building, in post-colonial states, state-building preceded nation-building.The aftermath of colonialism led to the need for nation-building.Some distinguish between an ethnic nation, based in (the social construction of) race or ethnicity, and a civic nation, based in common identity and loyalty to a set of political ideas and institutions, and the linkage of citizenship to nationality.Today the word nation is often used synonymously with state, as in the United Nations.In what Seymour Martin Lipset has called , the United States, at first 13 colonies with diverse origins, came together to form a new nation and state. That state, like so many in contemporary times, faced the prospect of secession and disintegration in 1865, and it took another 100 years for the integration of black and white, North and South, East and West.This was a new type of nation-state, because its people were not all of the same ethnicity, culture, and language, as had been thought to be the case in the early defining of the concept of nation-state.