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.

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


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.

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.

The Constitution of the Red Lake Nation

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

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 Assistant
Lori Maxwell
Office Assistant