Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
Jump to: navigation, search
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Bandera Turtle Mountain.PNG
Total population
Regions with significant populations
North Dakota, United States
English, Ojibwe, Michif
Catholicism, Methodism, Midewiwin
Related ethnic groups
Chippewa Cree, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Métis

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (Ojibwe language: Mikinaakwajiw-ininiwag) is a Native American tribe of Ojibwa and Métis peoples, based on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. The tribe has 30,000 enrolled members. A population of 5,815 reside on the main reservation and another 2,516 reside on off-reservation trust land (as of the 2000 census).[1] It is federally recognized and Richard McCloud is the current Tribal Chairman.


Around the end of the eighteenth century, prior to the advent of white traders in the area, the formerly woodland-oriented Chippewa, who had been in what is now Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, moved out onto the Great Plains in pursuit of the buffalo and new beaver resources to hunt and trade. They successfully reoriented their culture to life on the plains, adopting horses, and developing the bison-hide tipi, the Red River cart, hard-soled footwear, and new ceremonial procedures. By around 1800, these Indians were hunting in the Turtle Mountain area of present-day North Dakota.

Chief Little Shell I (Esens), a leader of the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians, was part of the generation to make treaties with the United States federal government that ceded certain lands. This included the 1863 Treaty of the Old Crossing, signed near the Red Lake River, Minnesota, which the Red Lake Band also signed. Under this treaty, they ceded their lands in the Red River area to the United States.

Other reservations that are considered descendant from the Pembina Band are the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, the separate and state-recognized Little Shell Tribe of Montana, the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana; the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe and White Earth Chippewa Band, which are both part of the federally recognized Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; and Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation of Manitoba.

The history of the Turtle Mountain Band as a contemporary band began on December 21, 1882, when Turtle Mountain Reservation was established in North Dakota under Presidential Executive Order. The Turtle Mountain Band is considered as one of the political 'Successors Apparent' of the Pembina Band.

In the 1890s, Ayabrwaywetung (Ayabiwewidang, "Sit to Speak"; Thomas Little Shell) disenrolled his group from the tribal rolls of the Turtle Mountain Band (and reservation), and led his people into Montana. There has been a legal question of whether the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians includes the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians (of Montana), which is recognized separately by that state. Several court cases, including as recently as 2003, have ruled that they are separate tribes, given the Little Shell Band's independent development since the 1890s and its relocation to Montana to have a separate government.[2]

The courts have recognized three independent units claiming the name Chippewa, and several unassociated members of that band.[3] This case refers to cases of the Indian Claims Commission and United States Court of Claims, which can no longer be found online at their original sources, as the cases are old.[4] Today three descendant bands are officially recognized by federal or state governments.

Red Bear Band[edit]

The principal Pembina Chief was Ogimaa Muskomukwa (Chief Red Bear), who was born before 1829 to Clair Ahdicksongab and Name_Not_Given, of the Reindeer Clan at Lake of the Woods. His siblings included Marguerite Macheyquayzaince Ahdicksongab O-kit-chita (Clear Sky Woman), Pewanejeet (Charlo/Chano), Omaniknay (Mrs. Temp Claire, wife of Mizhaquot), Ahdickons (Little Reindeer), LeBroche and Aceguemanche. After Red Bear's death in 1879, his children relocated to the Red Lake Reservation of Minnesota. This reservation is one of six bands in the state represented by the federally recognized Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Members of the Red Bear Band established the Pembina Descendants Committee under the 1971 Act of Congress Bill H.R. 6072 Report No. 142-92. This committee includes the Signatory Heirs of Ogimaa Muskomukwa (Chief Red Bear). Chief Red Bear's Sub-Chiefs were Teb-ish-ke-ke-shig "Equal Sky", and Joseph Montreuil, who was married to Red Bear's niece Isabel Migijisi. They signed the 1863 "Old Crossing" Treaty alongside Pembina warriors Joseph Gornon (Gourneau) and Summer Wolverine. Chief Red Bear's nephew Pierre Bottineau served as interpreter for this treaty.

Direct descendants of Chief Red Bear on the Red Lake Reservation include: Rosebear, Cobenais, Waybenais, Kingbird, Cloud, Wind, and Desjarlait, among other Red Lake families. Other lineal descendants are dwelling on Turtle Mountain Reservation and in Walhalla, North Dakota. They include Montreuil, Caribeau, Grandbois (1 line), Bushie, Nadeau (1 Line), Frederick (1 line), Brunelle (1 line), Decoteau (1 line), Bottineau (1 line) and Grant (1 line).

Hereditary Chiefs of Red Bear include all 5th-generation grandchildren residing on the Red Lake Reservation, the Signatory Heirs of the Red Bear Bloodline, Sub-Chief Joseph Montreuil, and also all of Red Bear's 5th-generation nephews and nieces, as well as the 4th-generation grandchildren of Sub-Chief Joseph Montreuil. They hold seats on the Muskomukwa Bloodline Committee as Chiefs and Headmen, Signatory Heirs of Pembina Treaty Council, and bloodline descendants of Pembina Descendants Committee. Some notable descendants of the bloodline include: direct descendant Marty Cobenais (Red Bear) of Red Lake, and lineal descendants Donna Patenaude (Montreuil/Grandboise), Jesse Peltier (Montreuil/Caribeau), Bradley Vervalen-White Buffalo Charging Man (Montreuil/Grandboise), Randy Vondal (Montreuil/Grandboise) and Charles Vondal (Montreuil/Grandboise), all members of the committee holding Headmen positions.

Signatory Heirs/Headmen Jesse Peltier and Bradley Vervalen, along with the researcher Vine Blackfeather Sr., appeared in one of Coleen Rajotte's documentaries about the similarities and differences between American Indians and Aboriginal Indians of Canada. She is a Canadian filmmaker.

"A group who were disenrolled from the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation in North Dakota in the 1890s were then led into Montana by Chief Thomas Little Shell."[5]


The tribal offices are located in Belcourt, North Dakota. The current Tribal Chairman is local businessman Richard McCloud, who defeated Merle St. Claire in the 2012 tribal election. Merle St. Claire had held office in December 2010.

Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing[edit]

The Turtle Mountain Chippewa became the first tribe in the United States to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on November 22, 2011, by unanimous vote [6] for a tribal resolution drafted by the grassroots tribal member group No Fracking Way Turtle Mountain Tribe.[7] The tribal resolution fracking ban was amended by the tribal council to direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to cancel oil and gas bids on 45,000 acres of tribal land that was scheduled to begin on December 14, 2011.[8] The BIA cancelled the bids on December 9, 2011.


The tribe has founded the Turtle Mountain Community College, one of numerous tribally controlled colleges in the United States.

The tribe has established online, short-term installment loans as a business to serve underbanked Americans. The business has brought new employment opportunities and has generated financial support for other tribal business ventures and social programs for the reservation.[9] Merle St. Clair, former chairman of the tribe, is also a board member of the Native American Lending Alliance, an association of tribes in the payday loans business. Other participating tribes include the Chippewa Cree,[10] the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Santee Sioux Nation of South Dakota.[11]

Delvin Cree, a writer with The Tribal Independent, classified their high rates charged as predatory lending in an opinion piece published on Indianz.com in February 2012.[12] A New York Times article said the tribe charged an annualized rate of 360% on some of its short-term loans.

Notable tribal members[edit]

Historical chiefs and leaders[edit]

  • Red Bear (Muskomukwa)- Principal chief of the Red Bear Band of the Pembina Chippewa at the time of 1863 "Old Crossing" Treaty.
  • Little Shell I, signatory of 1863 Old Crossing Treaty, chief of the Little Shell Pembina Band of the Chippewa
  • Little Shell II
  • Little Shell III
  • Black Duck
  • Red Thunder
  • Kakenowash
  • Kaispau Gourneau

Significant locations associated with the Turtle Mountain Chippewa[edit]

  • Belcourt
  • Dunseith
  • St. Joseph (Walhalla)(Red Bear's Reservation)
  • Pembina
  • St. John
  • Stump Lake (Black Duck's village)
  • Grahams Island (Little Shell's Village)
  • Round Lake village
  • Buffalo Lodge
  • White Earth River region
  • Trenton / Buford region (TISA)
  • Dogden Buttes
  • Strawberry Lake


  1. ^ Turtle Mountain Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land, Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota United States Census Bureau
  2. ^ Koke v. Little Shell Band of Chippewa of Montana, No. 01-888, April 2003, Montana Supreme Court, accessed 7 March 2012
  3. ^ See FindLaw
  4. ^ An internet search for either: Turtle Mt. Band of Chippewa Indians 203 Ct. Cl. 426 (1974) or Turtle mountain Band of Chippewa Indians et al. v United States 490 F.2d 935 (1974) will find references to offline sources for this information. This also applies to the findings of the Indians Claim Commission: 23 Ind. Cl. Comm 315 (1970), 25 Ind. Cl Comm. 179 (1971), 26 Ind. Cl. Comm. 336 (1971)
  5. ^ Koke v Little Shell (Montana Supreme Court) and United States Department of the Interior proposed finding for Federal Acknowledgement of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana (Federal Register V65 #141 July 21, 2000). Note that the Montana Supreme Court has taken down their online opinions and has no date for the return of online cases. FindLaw does not have the opinion online.
  6. ^ http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DkYd0npJfDo
  7. ^ https://www.facebook.com/groups/279774735395143/
  8. ^ http://www.nativetimes.com/news/environment/6484-nd-tribe-bans-hydraulic-fracturing-on-reservation
  9. ^ Schramm, Jill. "Turtle Mountain tribe launches online loan service". Minot Daily News. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ Volz, Matt (December 26, 2011). "The Guardian". Tribe's high-interest online lending venture booms (London, England). AP Foreign. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ Associated Press, "Indian tribes welcome ruling on sovereignty", The Denver Post, 15 February 2012, accessed 7 March 2012
  12. ^ http://www.indianz.com/News/2012/004651.asp["Predatory lending a cash cow in Indian country", Indianz.com, 17 February 2012, accessed 7 March 2012

External links[edit]