• Mis-Qua-Mi-Saga-Eh-Ganing

Constitution Reform Initiative

Seeking progressive solutions to problems, pursuing economic stability and revitailzing cultures, languages and traditions.

History of Red Lake Nation's Constitution and Reform

Currently, the Red Lake Tribal Constitution resembles an Indian Reorganization Act-era Constitution (almost 80 years ago) when federal policy essentially required Indian tribes to adopt boilerplate, 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.

Project Background

Over the past several years, in an effort to implement a consistent and collectively-accepted foundation for the Red Lake Tribal government to lead and serve, the Red Lake Tribal Council has been researching options to revise the current Tribal Constitution to accurately reflect the values, customs, and priorities of the Red Lake Anishinaabe people and communities. In August of 2012, the Tribal Council passed a resolution which approve the Constitutional Reform Initiative ("CRI" or "Initiative") which directs the Economic Development & Planning Department to seek a formal relationship with the Bush Foundation and aggressively carry out the Initiative's action plan. One primary component of the action plan, developed in March of 2013 (Resolution 43-13), called for the formation of Constitutional Reform Initiative Committee with the significant responsibility of recommending and drafting a revised Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal Constitution.

Constitution Reform Committee

The CRI Committee is a 13-member group of Red Lake Band Members who represent a cross-section of the Band membership. Each area of representation on the Committee has been carefully selected by the Tribal Council to ensure the revised Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Constitution is crafted to mirror the importance of the Ojibwe language, culture, and way of life embraced by the Red Lake Band membership, while also realistically addressing the current and evolving needs of the Tribe. The Committee will be working over the next two years (at least) and is responsible for formally recommending a revised Tribal Constitution for approval to appear on the Election Referendum ballot. The work of this Committee 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.

Eugene Stillday Elder and Cultural Advisor
Keith Lussier Legal Advisor
Michael Beaulieu Little Rock Representative
Thomas Cain, Jr. Little Rock Representative
Lorena Cook Red Lake Representative
Stephanie Cobenais Red Lake Representative
Sheldon Brown Redby Representative
Jerald Loud Redby Representative
Tharen Stillday Ponemah Representative
Brenda Child Minneapolis Representative
Pamela Johns Minneapolis Representative
Pamela Pierce Duluth Representative

Mission Statement

We, the Constitutional Reform Committee, will engage and empower the communities of the Red Lake Nation to improve and strengthen the Constitution.

  • Key elements:
  • Protect our Sovereignty
  • Protect our Lands, Language, Culture and Traditions
  • Strengthen our economy
  • Respect Biculturalism
  • Increase accountability

Vision Statement

Our vision is to reaffirm respect and strengthen ideas of self-governance in the Red Lake Nation’s Constitution, a document passed down to us from our ancestors in 1918 and later revised in 1958.


  • What is a Constitution?
  • A Constitution is a written record of a body of basic principles, privileges, rights and limitations that a governing body must abide.

  • Is the Constitution Reform Initiative Committee going to write the new Constitution before presenting it to the band members and tribal council?
  • No. The Committee is going to engage the community throughout the process in order to receive feedback from band members. The CRI Committee will be holding meetings in each community within the coming year as well as setting up a website where members can retrieve updated information regarding the Initiative. When the committee feels that it has enough community input and support then they will start to draft the initial constitution changes for the entire Nation’s approval.

  • Is the Tribal Council in charge of the Constitution reform?
  • No. The Community is in charge of what is going to be included in the Constitution. This is an opportunity to showcase what makes Red Lake unique. As Red Lake Band Members, we can focus on creating an environment that honors our past, as well as, sets a firm foundation for our future generations.

  • Why is the constitution important to me?
  • Constitution Reform is an opportunity for each citizen to voice their opinion on what kind of government and future they want for the Red Lake Nation. Without the support and input from the community the Initiative will not be as successful as it could be.

  • Who will be drafting the final constitution and when will that happen?
  • The final draft of the new Red Lake Constitution does not have a specific timeline. It will be completed by the CRI Committee when they, along with the community, have decided that the content accurately reflects the views of the Nation.

  • How can I help out?
  • The Constitution Reform Initiative will provide opportunities for community members to help the CRI Committee in a variety of ways. When the website I complete, there will be a portion that will allow community members to be connected directly with the effort. Band Members may also contact CRI staff members, Justin Beaulieu and Eva Kingbird to receive further information.

Contact Us

Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative
P.O. Box 588
Red Lake, MN 56601

Office: 218-679-1501 - Justin Beaulieu or 218-679-1502 - Eva Kingbird
Fax: 218-679-3385

Offices located in Red Lake Agency Building

Justin Beaulieu, Constitution Reform Coordinator
Eva Kingbird, Constitution Reform Administrative AssistantLori Maxwell, Office Assistant

15-Nov-2016 11:26 AM