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White Earth gets new constitution

Posted by: Pam Louwagie Updated: November 20, 2013 - 11:06 AM

Members of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new constitution, according to votes tallied Tuesday night.

The change could mean more than a doubling of White Earth’s population, which stands at under 20,000.

The new document removes a requirement that tribal citizens are 1/4 American Indian, a controversial “blood quantum” standard adopted at the urging of the federal government decades ago, American Indian Studies professors said. Under the new constitution, White Earth’s declining citizenship will instead be based on lineal descent.

The new constitution also establishes a separation of powers among three branches of government and includes term limits.

White Earth leaders have said a new constitution could be the key to attracting new businesses, running clean elections, creating an impartial judiciary and creating a place where more poeple want to live, work and invest.

Jill Doerfler, associate professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said the final vote count was 2,780 to 712.

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