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White Earth sets Nov. 19 for referendum vote

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The White Earth Nation is currently involved in a historic process of constitutional reform.

The Tribal Council of the White Earth Nation unanimously passed a resolution calling for a referendum vote on the proposed Constitution of the White Earth Nation. 

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The referendum vote is scheduled for Nov. 19.

White Earth Chairperson Erma J. Vizenor emphasized, “The referendum vote will be a defining moment for the White Earth Nation. This is a historic opportunity for White Earth enrollees to have their voice heard, a chance to determine the future of the White Earth Nation, and the legacy for future generations.”

There have been several efforts for constitutional reform at White Earth in recent decades. Each of these efforts have built upon each other and made important contributions.  In her 2007 State of the Nation address, Vizenor responded to calls from citizens to address constitutional reform and announced her intention to formally begin efforts for constitutional reform at White Earth.

From 2007-2009, four Constitutional Conventions were held. On April 9, 2009, Constitutional Delegates ratified a proposed Constitution of the White Earth Nation. The proposed constitution has three distinct branches of government with a set of checks and balances among the branches, several advisory councils, and requires lineal descent for citizenship.

In December 2012, White Earth Tribal Council announced that they were awarded a grant from the Bush Foundation to fund the final stage of the constitutional reform process, including the referendum. In April, Terry Janis, an experienced educator and attorney, was hired as the constitutional reform project manager.

Since June, Janis and the Constitutional Education Team have facilitated more than 30 Constitutional Education Sessions. These informational sharing sessions are designed to prepare White Earth enrollees for the referendum. Educational and other preparation efforts for the referendum will continue up to the date of the referendum.

If you would like to organize a Constitutional Education Session please contact Terry Janis at 218-983-3285 Ext. 5921 or terry.janis@whiteearth.com.

You can find more information on the constitutional reform process as well as the text of the proposed Constitution, the current Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) Constitution, and interviews, discussions and trainings on the proposed Constitution on the White Earth website www.whiteearth.com and the White Earth Nation Facebook page www.facebook.com/WhiteEarthNation.

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