Transition Team Members were appointed in August, 2014 t to serve as a working group focused on instituting the newly approved Constitution of the White Earth nation. Funding for the Transition Team is provided by the Bush Foundation - Native Nation Rebuilding grant.
The Team was to work in an advisory capacity to assist the Tribal Council in coordinating a smooth transition to the new government. Members include:
Alfred Fox Erma Vizenor Joan LaVoy Lisa Brunner Quinne Goodwin
Brent Gish Franklin "Bud" Heisler Joe LaGarde Lorna LaGue Sharon Enjady-Mitchell
Celeste Cloud Gabe Brisbois Joe Plumer Marcy Hart Shayna Blue
Donald Vizenor Hepsi Barnett Kathy Goodwin Mike Smith Stephanie Williams
Donna Fairbanks Jerome Lhotka Kenneth "Gus" Bevins Mindy Iverson Steven "Punky" Clark
Emma King Jill Doerfler Lenny Fineday Pamela Aspinwall Tara Mason
NOTE: Not all members started at the same time, nor did all members attend the meetings.
Transition Team Meetings & Activities
On December 10, 2014 the Transition Team focused on providing input for an upcoming survey to be conducted by the Minnesota State Demographer's Office; the purpose of the survey will be to solicit input on the design of the Acknowledged Communities outlined in the CWEN, Chapter 6, Article 4 which states: "Communities shall be established or changed by petition, by population, historic or totemic associations, and ratified by a simple majoirity of eligible citizen voters in a general referendum." Each Acknowledged Community is to have one representative on the new Legislative Council, as described in the CWEN, Chapter 6, Article 3. Michael Pederson from the MN State Demographer's Office was present in the meeting and provided key information on survey design.
On November 24, 2014 the White Earth Tribal Council voted to censor the Anishinaabeg Today from printing any more information or updates on the Constitutionof the White Earth Nation. As a result of this, the Transition Team will not be able to provide updates to the community via the Tribal newspaper.
Shooting Star Casino was planning to host their annual Native American Heritage Day and joined with us to add Sovereignty Day in honor and celebration of the November 19, 2013 historic referendum held at White Earth. At the end of the event a ceremony was held to honor the original Delegates at the 2007-2009 Constitutional Conventions.
The Transition Team met on November 13, 2014 to further discuss the Nation Building training held the previous day. Discussions focused on how this training could be beneficial to community members. A refresher on the CWEN was conducted as well as a review of the current structure under the MCT Constitution. Members were surprised to learn that although White Earth has almost 1/2 of the overall MCT population, we only have 2 out of 12 votes on the TEC; White Earth enrolled members cannot even vote to elect 10 of the 12 MCT TEC members which is not a representative government structure.
On November 12, 2014 some Transition Team Members joined staff at White Earth for a Nation Building training conducted by Native Nations Institute and funded by the Bush Foundation. Transtion Team Members stayed after the session to talk about how the training applies to the work they are doing.
The Transition Team met on October 8, 2014. Nicole MartinRogers, Wilder Research, was present to reivew the population projections of the MN Chippewa Tribe for the next 85 years. In all of the scenarios presented, White Earth's enrolled population is projected to significantly decline unless we move to lineal descent for the enrollment criteria. The Transition Team leared how the Osage Nation transitioned to a new constitution and they worked on prioritizing objectives for the three branches of government under CWEN. After a short survey, it was evident that much more education throughout the communiity was necessary.
Wilder Research was contacted to provided more information on the population projections completed for the MN Chippewa Tribe. The public was invited to attend two different sessions where Nicole MartinRogers was present to answer questions on how the projections were compiled and discuss key findings from the study. Nicole shared a report that was specific for White Earth in each of the sessions.
A review was conducted on the status of White Earth Enrollments. Since the blood quantum had been put into effect in 1961, there has been a steady decline in the number of enrolled members. About 67% of the overall population of White Earth members are over the age of 45; the data also shows that 28% of the enrolled members currently did not have 1/4 blood quantum (they were enrolled before 1961).
The Transition Team asked that a Facebook page be created in an effort to engage citizens of White Earth and keep people up-to-date on what is happening. The page is called "Constitution of the White Earth Nation - Transition" and is open for anyone.
The Transition Team met on Wednesday, September 10, 2014; the meeting was foucsed on creating a vision statement and starting to create a list of the tasks that will be necessary to ensure we have a smooth transition of governmental powers. Members requested a memo be sent to the White Earth Tribal Council to ask why all Tribal Council Members are not participating with the transition.
The first meeting of the Transition Team was held on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at Shooting Star Casino. The meeting was focused on introductions, establishing the values that will guide the Team throughout their work and taking a look at the history of White Earth.
Lorna LaGue was hired as the Constitution Reform Program Director and started her work on June 18, 2014. Jill Doerfler had already been contracted to assist and a contract was put into place for Hepsi Barnett (Osage) to assist with the transition. After getting settled in, Lorna sent a memo to the Executive Director to discuss the plans. The memo was shared with the Tribal Council and Lorna met with the Council on August 18, 2014 to review the information.
After receiving the Bush Foundation Nation Rebuilding grant in May, 2014, White Earth was ready to proceed with the transition to the new government approved by voters on November 19, 2013.
After a short break, the Transition Team met again on July 8, 2015 where Members provided updates on happenings throughout the summer. The Bush Foundation grant has been extended since the Team was not able to work on the actual transition of the White Earth government. The group agreed that we should continue to provide community education in small group sessions to help people understand the importance of the CWEN and the advantages as compared to the MCT Constitution.
Transition Team Members staffed a booth at the 147th Annual White Earth Reservation Celebration & Pow Wow on
June 12-14, 2015.
On May 11-14, 2015 a second digital storytelling session was held with ten new digital stories created by: Bryan Vizenor,
Doyle Turner, Louie Johannsen, Marcy Hart, Mary Favorite, Mike Smith, Pat Moran, Robert Durant, Sarah LaVoy-Brunette
& Toni Vizenor (see all the digital stories here).
In May "The People Have Spoken" was sent out to all people on the Anishinaabeg Today mailing list in an effort to keep the community better informed on what is happening with the CWEN, the censorship remains in place so we are not able to publish any information in the Anishinaabe Today.
The Transition Team met on April 30, 2015 and were joined by guests from the Bush Foundation. Chairwoman Vizenor spoke to the group and offered encouragement and advice to keep moving forward; she reminded the Team that Constitutional Reform has been around for a long time and it takes time for change to happen. The Team reviewed their past meetings and talked about what could be done going forward.
On April 9, 2015 Transition Team Members staffed a booth at the annual State of the Nation Event which was held at Shooting
On April 2, 2015 the Transition Team met again for an update from Chairwoman Vizenor who reported the censorchip from the
Anishinaabeg Today was lifed one day and then reinstated before a new edition of the paper was even printed. The digital stories
were reviewed by the Team who also worked on the action plans.
In an effort to keep people informed, "We Voted - What Happened" (a mailer) was sent out to everyone on the Anishinaabeg Today mailing list the end of March, 2015.
The first nDigiDreams session was held March 17-20 with nine digital movies created (see all the digital stories on our website here). Participants included: Ann LaVoy, Anthony Eichberg, Donald Vizenor, Jill Doerfler, Julie Smith, Lorna LaGue, Mary Otto, Sharon Enjady-Mitchell and Stephanie Williams.
The Transition Team continued to learn about different aspects of the CWEN in the March 5, 2015 meeting. Chairwoman Vizenor was also present and informed everyone of the recent MCT TEC action to ask for a Secretarial Referendum on the blood quantum issue. All MCT members from all six reservations would vote to decide whether we should include all Anishinaabe/Chippewa/Ojibwe blood and/or First Nations blood to count for current members. The Team continued to work on their action plans.
Chairwoman Vizenor provided another update at the February 5, 2015 meeting and the Team continued to prioritize objectives and make plans for moving forward.
The Transition Team continued to meet, although 3 of the 5 Tribal Council members have voiced opposition to the new CWEN. The opposition has created a situation where we are not able to proceed with the actual transition, but the Team continues to meet and plan for the future. In the meeting on January 8, 2015 the Team received an update from Chairwoman Vizenor who shared information about the recent MCT TEC meetings. Plans were made for a ditigal storytelling session and the Team's objectives were reviewed again.
Instituting the newly approved Constitution is a foridable task that will require time and participation of a broad base of citizens with diverse levels of expertise. Following the November, 2013 referendum, the White Earth Nation was awarded a Bush Foundation Native Nation Rebuilding grant to provide the resources necessary for completing the reformation called for under the CWEN. The grant supports the creation of a Transition Team who will work to ensure the process of transitioning from the current system to the reformed system is carefully executed, stable, and deliberate. The Transition Team is tasked to work with the Tribal Council in an advisory capacity to assist in this exciting endeavor.