White Earth Constitutional Reform
Important Decisions, Dates, and Data in the making of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation
August 3, 2015 Tribal Council Minutes: Vote was 3 for and 0 against (Vizenor absent, Bevins Chairing the meeting) to close out and return all the Bush Foundation funds by Friday, August 7, 2015.
April 20, 2015 Tribal Council Minutes: Motion by Tara Mason and Second by Punky Clark to rescind the November 25, 2013 Resolution #001-14-006 which authorized all necessary steps be taken to amend the MCT Constitution for the enactment of separate constitutions or other governing documents by individual bands
March 27, 2015 Tribal Council Minutes: Kathy Goodwin stated the letter that goes out to descendents who are not eligible to become enrolled needs to be changed ; she does not agree with the 80% election. Discussion was held on the mailer that recently went out and Punky Clark made a motion to remove the information regarding constitutional refrom from the newspaper, Kathy Goodwin Second (3 for, 1 silent).
March 16, 2015 Tribal Council Minutes: Tara Mason made a motion that seconded by Kathy Goodwin to lift the ban on Constitutional reform issues being disucssed in the Anishinaabeg Today as long as the opposing view is also allowed to have an article; limited size, no more than 500 words. Passed 3-0, Clark was absent).
March, 2015 White Earth Nation Needs Input on Upcoming Survey: The Minnesota State Demographic Center, in coordination with the White Earth Nation, will be conducting a survey of randomly selected White Earth citizens. The survey will ask citizens about how they want to be represented on the new White Earth Legislative Council, to be formed under the Constitution of the White Earth Nation. Responses to this survey will inform a referendum in which White Earth citizens will vote to create “acknowledged communities,” within the exterior boundaries of the Reservation. Each “acknowledged community” will have one Representative on the new Legislative Council. If you are selected, thank you in advance for your participation. If you have questions about this survey, please contact Michael Peterson at the Minnesota State Demographic Center by email at or by phone at (651) 201-2464.
November 24, 2014 Tribal Council Minutes: Tara Mason made a motion that was seconded by Kathy Goodwin to suspend all information on the new Constitution in the Anishinaabeg Today.
August 21, 2014 First Transition Team Meeting is heald (see Transition Team activities on this page)
August 18, 2014 Tribal Council Minutes: Lorna LaGue meets with Tribal Council to review Memorandum and talk about plans for the Transition Team.
July 17, 2014 LaGue sends Memorandum to Executive Director outlinit some of the plans going forward for the constitutional reform efforts.
June 16, 2014: Lorna LaGue is hired as the new Constitutional Reform Project Director.
May: White Earth announces grant award from the Bush Foundation to start the implementation phase of the Constitutional of the White Earth nation
February 12, 2014: Court Order on Constitutional Referendum
December 2, 2013: White Earth Tribal Court Order granting additional time
November 29, 2013: Contestor, Frank Bibeau's memorandum to the Court and Attorney for White Earth Election Board, Joe Plumer's response, Attachment #1, Attachment #2, Attachment #3, Attachment #4, Terry Janis Affidavit and Attachments.
November 25, 2013: White Earth Election Board received Appeal from White Earth Member, Attorney Frank Bibeau
November 25, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Discussion was held regarding the resolution to the MCT TEC to take all necessary steps to amend the MCT Constitution to include a process for enactment of separate constitutions or other governing documents by individual bands. Chairwoman Vizenor called for a motion to approve the resolution as presented; no motion made. After further discussion and review Motion was made by Terry Tibbetts to approve Resolution #001-14-006, with deletions and changes, Seconded by Robert Durant. Motion carried, 3 for, 0 against." NOTE: See April 20, 2015 for more informaiton on Resolution #001-14-006.
November 21, 2013: Chairwoman, Erma Vizenor, issues transition memorandum
November 19, 2013: Referendum Election held: 4,699 White Earth members registerd, requested a ballot, and were mailed a ballot. 78 ballots were received after the deadline of November 19, 2013 and 21 ballots were rejected due to not being voted or being unsigned. 3,492 ballots were counted on November 19th. The final tally showed 2,780 (79.61%) voted to APPROVE the Constitution and 712 (20.39%) voted to REJECT (certified election results)
October 21, 2013: Ballots begin to be mailed out
October 18, 2013: Deadline for ballot requests forms
September 3, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Motion made by Terry Tibbetts to approve constitutional reform election board members, Monica Hedstrom, Dean Johnson, Vernie Hisgun, Toni Vizenor (alternate), Judge Blaeser as contest judge, Seconded by Robert Durant. Motion carried, 2 for, 0 against." Notification of rights to challenge the election results.
August 26, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Motion made by Irene Auginaush to approve Resolution #001-13-022, establishing a referendum election to be conducted by mail in ballot only, Seconded by Terry Tibbetts. Motion carried, 3 for, 0 against."
August 19, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Motion made by Terry Tibbetts to approve Resolution #001-13-021, approving referendum vote for Constitution, Seconded by Robert Durant. Mostion carried, 3 for, 0 against."
August 12, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Resolutions for Referendum Vote WE Constitution and Tribal Name change were Tabled."
June - October, 2013: Terry Janis, Constitutional Reform Manager and Consultant, Jill Doerfler, held 56 sessions on and off the Reservation in an effort to provide education and information on the Proposed Constitution; in addition, the Constitutional Reform Workbook was created and the following videos were published to provide even more educational opportunities to the members of White Earth before the referendum was held.
Video 1: Introduction and Sovereign Authority
Video 2: Citizen Rights
Video 3: Form and Process of Governance
Video 4: Executive and Legislative Branches
Video 5: Judicial Branch
Radio interviews were also conducted as a part of the educational componenets. Listen here to Aabitoose, an interview by Winona LaDuke with Terry Janis.
May 2, 2013 Quarterly Tribal Council Minutes: "Terry Janis, Constitutional Reform Project Manager, was present to give an introduction. Community meetings will be held in June and July, National Symposium in August with a referendum in September."
April 29, 2013 Tribal Council Minutes: "Constitutional Reform: Terry Janis was present to give an introduction. He is a member of the Ogalala Tribe and has attorney background of 20 years. Strategy of BUsh Foundation grant is to reach each commnity with a focus on education and to host national symposium/conference in the future. Jill Doerfler has been contracted to assist with the project. The anticipated outcome is to educate the people so they can make an informed decision on constitutional reform."
April 15, 2013: Terry Janis (Oglala Lakota - Pine Ridge) hired as Constitutional Reform Project Manager to conduct educational sessions for community members.
December: White Earth announces grant award from the Bush Foundation for Constitutional Reform
October 13, 2009: Chairwoman Erma Vizenor submits letter to TEC regarding Constitutional Reform
June 2, 2009: Letter from Norman W. Deschampe to Erma Vizenor RE: TEC Meeting
April 30, 2009 Tribal Council Minutes: "There have been requests for constitutional convention documentation. Motion made by Irene Auginaush to reapprove, reaffirm, and re-endorse the constitutional reform process that is taking place, Seconded by Bud Heisler. Motion carried, 4 for, 0 against."
April 3 & 4, 2009: Fourth (last) Constitutional Convention convened; The drafted constitution was reviewed line by line, items were discussed and changes were made as the group proceeded. A vote was taken to decide whether to ratify the Proposed Constitution, it passed 16-8. Delegates in attendance included:
Alice M. Johnson
April 6, 2009 Tribal Council Minutes: "Constitutional Convention Update: Erma gave a brief update of final convention. The process has been open to all - not just for the delegates. The draft constitution was ratified by delegates with a 16-8 vote. Significant changes were discussed, such as separation of judiciary and courts, eliminating blood quantum - was a huge debate, two at large elected representatives for a legislative branch, and term limites for RTC members. Next steps are to present information to the membership, possible referendum and fundraising, and if passed present it to TEC. Suggestion was made to have the vote on the sections being presented vs. a yes or no on the whole constitution."
May 9 & 10, 2008: Third Constitutional Convention convened. Delegates received copies of American Indian Constitutional Reform and the Rebuilding of Native Nations by Eric Lemont. There was a presentation on Tribal Governments was and the basic strategies covered in the book; Chairwoman Vizenor designated a Constitutional Proposal Team to draft a constitution based upon input received at the three conventions; Gerald Vizenor was the principal writer with assistance from Erma Vizenor, Jill Doerfler, JoAnn Stately, and Anita Fineday with David Wilkins as consultant.
January 4 & 5, 2008: Second Constitutional Convention convened. Discussions on the new constitution reflecting Anishinaabe values; presentation on the history of blood quantum and tribal citizenship, the judicial system was discussed and a presentation on the importance of land.
October 22, 2007 Tribal Council Minutes: "Constitutional Convention: this has been a successful event. Items of discussion: constitution, MCT relationship, enrollment/membership, separation of powers, an dland. Suggestion was made to have grant writers/planning look for grant opportunities for constitutional reform."
October 19 & 20, 2007: First Constitutional Convention convened. 40 Constitutional Delegates were swore in by Tribal Court Judge Anita Fineday; all were provided a copy of the draft constitution completed in the 90's; open comment period was held and many questions discussed; the delegates agreed they wanted to proceed forward and create a new White Earth Constitution. Delegates included:
Alice M. Johnson
October 15, 2007 Tribal Council Minutes: "Constitutional Convention: Erma provided the council an update on the plans for the upcoming constitutional convention. Not all community councils responded. Some at large delegates will be selected as well. The targeting is about 60 people total for Friday evening an dall day Saturday. Focus attention on relationship with MCT, enrollment criteria, MCT land ownership, judicial separation, and jurisdiction. Everything will be recorded. Delegates will be given a room; a block has already been reserved and will be billed to the established budget."
March 1, 2007: Chairwoman, Erma Vizenor, gave the annual State of the Nation address and in a call for change, she announced that she wanted to address constitutional reform in the upcoming year.
See also the 1990's Constitutional Reform efforts and the1998 Drafted Constitution