Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Community Engagement Meeting held in Little Rock - P6

The fifth of six scheduled Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Community Engagement Meetings was held at the Little Rock Community Center on March 27, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM.

The first meeting was held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on March 22, 2014 with about 60 people in attendance, followed by Redby's meeting on Monday, Red Lake on Tuesday, and Ponemah on Thursday.

According to a press release on March 17, the Bush Foundation approved a grant of $1,542,700 to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to support constitutional reform outreach, education and meetings.

Over the past two years, the Tribe has been working with Native Nations Institute and the Bush Foundation to begin constitutional reform dialogue with tribal leadership of the Red Lake Nation. Through several facilitated meetings and seminars, the Tribal Council recognized that the current constitution needed revisions, and in some ways had outgrown it. The Red Lake Constitution is almost 80 years old.

It was agreed that the document was a major roadblock to successful self-determination and effective governing due to many factors, but needed assistance with determining a way to address the constitution.

To view the constitution visit:

According to a brochure from the Committee, the Red Lake Tribal Constitution resembles an Indian Reorganization Act-era Constitution when federal policy essentially required Indian tribes to adopt boilerplace, European-style governing "constitutions" in order to be fully acknowledged as sovereign, legal entities by the United States government.

In the past two decades, many Indian tribes have successfully undergone the extensive process to revise their Constitutions to better allow them to seek progressive solutions to problems, pursue economic stability and revitalize their cultures, languages and traditions.

The Red Lake Tribal Council, over the past several years, has been researching options to revise the current Constitution.

In August 2012 the Tribal Council passed a resolution which approved the Constitutional Reform Initiative which directed the Economic Development & Planning Department to seek a formal relationship with the Bush Foundation and aggressively carry out the action plan. One primary component of the plan was to recommend and draft a revised Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal Constitution.

The CRI Committee is a 13 member group of Red Lake Band members who will be working over the next couple of years to formally recommend a Constitution to appear on the Election Referendum ballot. Their work is not to advocate for a particular outcome, but to gather all information pertaining to specific areas and make a determination as to the best option to include in the revised Constitution.

Committee members include: Eugene Stillday, Keith Lussier, Michael Beaulieu, Thomas Cain, Jr ., Lorena Cook, Stephanie Cobenais, Sheldon Brown, Jerald Loud, Annette Johnson, Tharen Stillday, Pamela Johns, Brenda Child and Pamela Pierce.

Tonights meeting in Redby consisted of an invocation, welcome and introductions, dinner, Aangwaaamas video, presentations on Red Lake Land and Natural Resources, group breakouts, presentation on Anishinabe Language and Culture before wrapping things up.

Further meetings are scheduled in Duluth on Saturday, March, 29th, 2014, and a Bemidji meeting may also be scheduled after these meetings in April.

Additional meetings are being planned in the next few months.


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