Red Lake Nation Celebrates Its Constitution’s 100th Anniversary

Chairman Seki spoke to the importance of the work being done by Red Lake Nation Constitutional Reform Committee

Published April 16, 2018

100th Anniversary of the Red Lake Constitution, 1918-2018
Celebration Hosted by Red Lake Constitutional Reform Committee

RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – At high noon on Saturday, April 14, 2018, the Red Lake Constitution Reform Initiative Committee (CRI), invited all Red Lake members, families, and guests to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Red Lake Constitution, 1918-2018. The event, held at the Red Lake Humanities Center, had an agenda that included a report on issues that affect the Nation’s language, culture, land and natural resources.

Upon entering the building, tirbal citizens signed in and picked up giveaways of fans, mugs, and handouts. Handouts included an agenda, a page listing the signers of 1918 and 1958 Constitutions, a copy of the 1958 Red Lake Constitution and Bylaws, and a collection of Tribal member feedback/suggestions/opinions gathered by CRI.
After an invocation by Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears, Jr.Committee Chair Tharen Stillday opened the meeting, with a welcome and Introductions.

CRI Chair Tharen Stillday

“We are here to celebrate the foresight of our forefathers and mothers in establishing one of the first Constitutions in Indian Country. We also want to update you on the activities of CRI,” said Stillday. “If we do not hold our culture and sovereignty close, we are no longer Ojibwe, but descendants of Ojibwe.”

“The Constitution Reform Initiative Committee wants to hear from members of each community in order to ensure that the drafting of a New Red Lake Constitution accurately reflects the voice of the Red Lake Nation,” she said.
Remarks by Chairman Seki
Stillday then introduced Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. As is his manner, he began his remarks by introducing himself and a bit about his upbringing in Obaashiing in his first language Ojibwemowin. Switching to English, Seki noted that the tribe had not revised its constitution of late, the last time being in 1958.
“Do we need as part of our constitution, words to protect our land and natural resources?” Seki asked. “In 1918, with the first constitution, little was said about land, it was about government. In 1938 with the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), it still didn’t say much about land. But it did talk in more detail on government; including membership, elections, official duties, and business, but it still said nothing about water or natural resources. These are among the many things that the membership seems to want addressed.”
 
Seki’s comments were followed by two choices of meals, a sandwich and soup bar, or a full dinner of meat loaf, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, fry bread, deserts and beverages.

Photos by Michael Meuers

Former Chairman Bobby Whitefeather

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