TruthToTell, AUG 14: LIVE from WHITE EARTH-PART 2: Milestone Constitutional Debate

The second half of TTT’s Community Connections show from White Earth became a heated discussion among audience members as well as our panelists about whether a new constitution is not only needed or not, but whether it is even legal under the present Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution to be considering a breakaway governance system. Old vs. new; centralized or separated and localized; traditional tribal constructs defined by others vs a proposed model of government branches ala the Iroquois system adopted by the United States 250 years ago.

The audience consisted of all residents and enrollees affected by the proposed constitutional provisions and commentators and analysts from various Chippewa nations in Minnesota. So lively was this debate, we went almost two hours. This is Hour Two.

Clearly at play here was not only the evening’s debate, but the surfacing of long political rivalries between and among the current leadership and those not currently holding that power and position quite willing to accuse the current Council of assuming too much authority and complaining about a process opponents insist shut them out.

Such accusations are easy to make, but attorney Terry Janis insisted here, among other defenses, that public meetings and constitutional conventions held to design the proposed new governance package were well-advertised and accessible, if not always as well-attended as hoped. Moreover, the entire process is both legal and provided for in all current governance documents.

This part two – with its strong statements and emotional upheaval among proponents and opponents alike – is well worth watching and hearing.

This is history in the making.

In concert with production partner, KKWE/Niijii Radio, TruthToTell and CivicMedia/Minnesota traveled west August 14th, to the White Earth Reservation to air/televise the 7th in our series of LIVE Community Connections forums on critical Minnesota issues in the Bejou Room of Community Partner Shooting Star Casino – where we taped a debate on the meaning and impacts of a proposed new home rule constitution to be voted on by White Earth Nation tribal members this Fall.

The edited program will be posted on websites everywhere, as well. Producer David Zierott and St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) are televising the forum as TTT’s Media Partner. Additional distribution will come on TruthToTell’s regular air slot at 9:00 AM Mondays on KFAI, and on SPNN St. Paul Cable Channel 19, and MTN Minneapolis Cable Channel 16

Producer/Host Andy Driscoll and Associate Producer/Co-host Michelle Alimoradi, in concert with community and media partners wanted to bring this Community Connections program to affected residents of the Reservation and its neighborhoods/communities, conversations that strike at the heart of the White Earth Band’s quality of life, as well as its integrity in protecting the longstanding treaties negotiated over the ability to govern by democratic vote.

GUESTS:

ERMA VIZENOR - White Earth Tribal Chair

GERALD VIZENOR – Author/Poet, Constitution Writer

MICHAEL DAHL - White Earth Land Recovery Project Community Liaison and Niijii Radio

SHARON ENJADY - Anishinaabe Grandmother

TERRY JANIS (Lakota) - Attorney, Constitutional Reform Manager, White Earth­

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TruthToTell: Community Connections is made possible by a generous grant from the Bush Foundation, which has enabled TruthToTell to partner with KFAI community radio, St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), and selected community partners to present these discussions and dialogues on important issues like education, the environment, health care, politics and elections, transportation, Native concerns, youth issues and more, into the key communities affected by these respective topics for radio, television and online distribution.

CivicMedia-Minnesota is a 501c3 non-profit production company based in St. Paul, Minnesota, created to bring civic and media literacy to the Twin Cities region and Minnesota, informing, educating and empowering residents and students in local, state and regional public affairs and to amplify the voices of concerned communities on key issues facing them every day. CMM’s main goal is to engage citizens by helping them understand issues of governance and public policy, critique media coverage of critical policy matters, encourage public discourse and help people take collective action to resolve problems and influence public policy. More information and past show archives can be found at www.truthtotell.org.