Turtle Mountain North Dakota


Who I Am

A Guide To Your Turtle Mountain





Les LaFountain, Orie Richard, and Scott Belgarde

Project Peacemaker

Turtle Mountain Community College


Table of Contents:

Forward by Susan Davis page 3

Introduction page 5

History page 6

Treaties page 12

Heritage page 14

Language page 19

Land page 19

Government page 22

Geography page 27

Institutions page 30

Resources page 40

References page 44



To the People of the Turtle Mountains,

Growing up on Turtle Mountain and leaving here at the age

of 17 to attend college at UND, I was amazed at about how little I

did know about my reservation, my culture and my history. I sat

in classrooms and listened to other students talk about issues--

sometimes Indian issues--and I did not know the answers. I filled

out a BIA scholarship and did not have a clue what BIA was all

about. I went to PHS (public health service hospital) as it was

called back then and again did not understand why “we” went to

an Indian hospital. I heard about treaties but did not know how

they could possibly affect me as they were so far back in history. I

would think, “what is a treaty and what does it mean to me?”

In my home my parents spoke Michif though my dad always

said when I asked, “I speak Cree”. Talk about confusing. I am an

enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Then I

started hearing words like Ojibwa, Ojibway, Anishinaube and I

was like…hmmm? I am confused again. My grandmother Mary

Davis said she was a Michif and would say she spoke Michif.

Because grandma Mary went to boarding school as did my dad

and mom, they rarely spoke about our history. So many questions.

Who am I anyway?

As I looked around the reservation I saw as much confusion

as I had in my head. And I also began to realize that tribal politics

and religion were all affected by who you are and where you came

from and sometimes that problem just created more problems.

Even though we have all these differences with what we identify

with, in many ways we are all so much the same. We do have

common ground and we need to accept that.

As I got older I knew if I ever got the chance I would find a

way to put together that information and present in a way

whereby some of the questions could be answered. When a young

person left Turtle Mountain they would have a reference book of

sorts that describes the different things that make us a tribe but

also unique individuals. There are no right or wrong answers

about who you are. I called this book Who I Am and not Who Am


I because I know deep inside we know who we are--it just takes

some time getting it all sorted out. I hope this handbook helps a

tiny bit with sorting.

Through my job as Director of the Indian Law program at

Turtle Mountain Community College I have been able to get a book

started. The book by no means has all the answers but it is a start.

I was able to find three people who I knew could do the job and

they did their finest. They worked long and hard hours trying to

produce a handbook that would be helpful to our community and

others. I can’t take credit for any of the work done as the credit

goes to Scott Belgarde, Les LaFontain and Orie Richard; I thank



Susan Davis

Project Peacemaker

Who I Am

(Copyright 2007) was produced and funded by a grant from the Department of Justice. All

rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission

from the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.



Who am I? It is a simple question but the answer is never simple. This is

especially true for those of us who are members of the Turtle Mountain Band of

Chippewa. Often we don’t really ask ourselves this question until we leave the

Turtle Mountains for school, for work, for the military, for any of many reasons.

Many times we don’t really think about this question until others ask us about our

homes, our heritage, and our people.

This booklet is designed to help you keep in touch with who you are and

where you came from. It will help you answer the questions you might have and

those questions that might be asked of you by others who do not know about the

Turtle Mountains or its people. This booklet is also to be used as a reference to

keep in touch with home. It is designed to be a valuable source for important

information about your Band and what it means to be a member. It could also

teach you a few things you probably did not know about the Turtle Mountains or

confirm what you have always believed. This booklet is in no way a

comprehensive overview of the Turtle Mountain community, as there is so much




Who are the Pembina Band of Chippewa and how did they originate?

The origins of the Pembina Chippewa are associated with the trading post

established at Pembina in the northeastern corner of North Dakota in 1801. For

many years this post was the focal point for many Chippewa hunting and trading

in the region.

“The Chippewa at the Pembina trading post formed the nucleus for a widely

distributed and segmented group which in many accounts was known up until

1863 as the Pembina Band”

(Hickerson, 1956, p. 289),

although the use of the title “Pembina Band” became identified with the

Chippewas that lived, hunted, and traded around the Pembina Fur Trading Post

near the Red and Pembina Rivers in the mid 1700s.

What is the origin of governance for the Turtle Mountain Band of


The Anishinabe/Chippewa/Ojibwa genesis began along the Great Salt Water in

the east.

“Many years ago, my Ojibwa ancestors migrated to this area from their original

homeland on the eastern shores of North America” according to Ojibwa elder and

author Benton-Banai

(1988, p. 1). Centuries ago the Chippewa, Potawatomie

and Ottawa were called the

Three Fires Confederacy, and for a long period these

sub-groups of the Anishinabe were located near the Great Lakes.

Native tribes have always had strong leadership systems and made treaties for

peace or commercial trade. Tribes have always maintained constitutions and

codes to govern themselves, but these doctrines were generally unwritten.

Consequently, the lack of written forms of government led many Euro-Americans

to concoct fallacies of lawless Natives. Ironically, then and now, tribes are

perhaps the most legally and politically organized people in the world.

The chiefs and councils of the Pembina Band of Chippewa engaged in a peace

treaty, called the Sweet Corn Treaty, between the Chippewa and Dakota (Sioux)

in 1858 to cease conflicts over hunting boundaries. This treaty between two

tribes later served as the basis for establishing future treaty boundaries between

the Pembina Band of Chippewa and the United States government. Incidentally,

no legal written document was exchanged relative to the Sweet Corn Treaty but

oral tradition supports the customary process of securing the agreements and

later validating the tribes’ claims with the United States government in


subsequent treaties. According to oral tradition, as an act of solidarity between

the Chippewa and Dakota, a child from each tribe was exchanged to deter the

tribes from going to war with each other.

In 1863, the Pembina Chippewa, Red

Lake Chippewa and U.S. Government

met near a place now called Red Lake

Falls, Minnesota, to negotiate the Old

Crossing Treaty.

[as seen left] This

was a legal transaction that resulted in

a peace agreement and land cessions

by the bands in exchange for annuities

and other obligations. Two chiefs,

including Little Shell and Red Bear,

along with warriors, represented the

Pembina Band of Chippewa. Likewise,

chiefs and warriors represented the

Red Lake Band of Chippewa, who in the view of the United States was a


sovereign nation despite being a sub-group of the Anishinabe (tribe).

Nearly 9 million acres of land in the Red River Valley of what is now North

Dakota was given up to the United States in exchange for various items identified

in the treaty, which was subject to constitutional review by the U.S. Senate


Senate, 1900).

The Pembina Band of Chippewa, which was eventually to be

amalgamated with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, still occupied a huge

tract of land in north central North Dakota in the late 1800’s.

In the mid 1880’s, President Chester A. Arthur issued three executive orders or

presidential actions in reference to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. The

three executive orders were issued recognizing a

reserved portion of the lands

occupied by the tribe as a homeland in perpetuity. This was done after two

documented attempts to relocate the tribal population to the White Earth Indian

Reservation in Minnesota and the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation of North

Dakota. Consequently, some Turtle Mountain descendents currently inhabit the

White Earth Indian Reservation because the U.S. Government used the annuities

promised in the Old Crossing Treaty of 1863 as incentives for relocation.

The first executive order was issued on December 21, 1882, identifying 20

townships as the boundaries of the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

However, two years later, President Arthur issued a second order reducing the

size of the reservation from 22 to 2 townships on March 29, 1884

(U.S. Senate,

1900, p. 102).

The rational for reservation reduction was based on questionable

census data and quandaries over blood quantum. The third order was issued on

June 3, 1884 to remedy an oversight by the federal government regarding the

location of a township adjacent to the US/Canadian international border.


Today, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, which consists of approximately

30,000 tribal citizens, occupies two townships in north central North Dakota,

about 7 miles south of the US/Canadian border.

The McCumber Agreement of 1892 was made with the Turtle Mountain Band of

(Pembina) Chippewa and the U.S. Government. Various exchanges were made

including the tribe relinquishing claim to nearly 10 million acres of Native land in

north central North Dakota. In the process, the traditional government structure

was disrupted by external political influences of the United States.

Principal Chief Little Shell

[as seen to the right]

headed up a traditional Grand Council of 24


or advisors of tribal citizens, regardless

of blood quantum status. After a great deal of

trepidation and manipulation, an agreement was

secured under suspicious terms and continues to

cause ill feelings among various tribal groups.

The McCumber Agreement is what we commonly

refer to today as “The Treaty” or “The Ten-Cent

Treaty”; however, the US Congress stopped

making treaties with Indian tribes after 1871, but

continued to make agreements with tribes that

are similar to treaties through Acts of Congress

or Executive Orders. The McCumber Agreement

is one of these, but it is not formally a treaty.

Under protest, Chief Little Shell (III) refused to endorse the terms of the

McCumber Agreement and he ultimately led followers into Montana to pursue the

means of livelihood. As a result of that action, today, several hundred lineal

descendents of the tribe live as the “Landless Indians of Montana.” Politically

they have no indigenous rights, but based on cultural bonds, continue to seek

federal recognition as a separate entity through the U.S. government’s federal

recognition process for tribes.

As a result of the questionable process of coming to terms with

the McCumber Agreement, the traditional tribal form of

government went through a transition. A Committee of 32 was

formed and recognized by the U.S. government, which

specifically called for 16 full bloods and 16 mixed-bloods, and

was headed up by Chief Kakenowash,

[as seen on the left]

who maintained that leadership position for many years. In the

1930’s, Tribal Chairman Kanik (also known as Walking with

Thunder) became a leading figure in the governance of the

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Chairman Kanik headed up

an Advisory Council that adopted a written tribal constitution on

October 8, 1932.


Who are the people that have served as a tribal chairman or chairwoman?

1932-1940 Kanick (Walking with Thunder)

1940, 1941, 1943, and 1944 Louis Marion

1942, 1947 Frank Vondal

1945, 1946, 1948, 1950-1953, Edward (Chick) Jollie

1949 Norbert Davis

1954-58, Patrick Gourneau

1959-61 Louis LaFountain

1962-1963 Francis Cree

1964-1965 Andrew Turcotte replaced by Reginald (Tiny) Brien

1966-1967 Mary Cornelius replaced by Russell Davis, who was

then replaced by Reginald (Tiny) Brien

1968-1969 Mary Cornelius replaced by Peter Marcellais

1970-1971 Edwin James Henry succeeded by Gregory LaVallie

1972-78, 1980-1982, Edwin James Henry

1978-1980 Wayne Keplin

1982-88, 1992-1994, 1998-2000 Richard (Jiggers) LaFromboise

1988-1992, 1994-1996, Twila Martin-Kekahbah

1996-1998 Melvin Lenoir (Senior) succeeded by Raphael


2000-2002 Richard Monette replaced by Melvin Mike Lenoir

2002-2004 Richard Monette succeeded by Leon Morin

2004-2006 Kenneth W. Davis

2006-2007 David (Doc) Brien

(Source: Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Tribal Records Department, Peltier,


When did the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa adopt a written


Tribal citizens voted to accept a written constitution on October 8, 1932 and on

December 23, 1932 it was approved by the U. S. Department of the Interior,

Office of Indian Affairs

(Rhoads, 1932).

Who was the first Tribal Chairman under the written

constitution of 1932?

Kanick [

as seen on the left in 1937] (Rhoads, 1932, p. 1)


What was the name of the governing council in 1932?

It was named the Turtle Mountain Advisory Committee and it was made up of

eight enrolled members.

(Rhoads, 1932, p. 1)

When was the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation established


December 21, 1882, but was reduced in 1884 to the current six by twelve mile

area. The following excerpts are the executive orders issued by the President of

the United States from the Executive Mansion (White House) that recognized the

Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 21, 1882.

It is hereby ordered that the following-described country in the

Territory of Dakota, viz: Beginning at a point on the international

boundary where the tenth guide meridian west of the fifth

principal meridian (being the range line between ranges 73 and

74 west of the fifth principal meridian) will, when extended,

intersect said international boundary; thence south on the tenth

guide meridian to the southeast corner of township 161 north,

range 74 west; thence east on the fifteenth standard parallel

north, to the northeast corner of township 160 north, range 74

west; thence south on the tenth guide meridian west to the

southeast corner of township 159 north, range 74 west; thence

east on the line between townships 158 and 159 north to the

southeast corner of township 159 north, range 70 west; thence

north with the line between ranges 69 and 70 west to the

northeast corner of township 160 north, range 70 west; thence

west on the fifteenth standard parallel north to the southeast

corner of township 161 north, range 70 west; thence north on

the line between ranges 69 and 70 west to the international

boundary; thence west on the international boundary to the

place of beginning, be, and the same is hereby, withdrawn from

sale and settlement and set apart for the use and occupancy of

the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewas and such other Indians

of the Chippewa tribe as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit

to settle thereon (Kappler, 1904, p. 885).



Why is the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation only two townships (6 by 12


Originally the reservation consisted of 20 townships in 1882,

but it was reduced apparently because of the arguable status

over half bloods being eligible citizens of the tribe. Thus, in

1884, President Chester Arthur

[as seen on the right] issued

two executive orders reducing the size of the reservation to

two townships that are known today as the townships of

Ingebretson and Couture.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 29, 1884.

It is hereby ordered that the tract of country in the Territory of

Dakota withdrawn from sale and settlement and set apart for

the use and occupancy of the Turtle Mountain band of

Chippewa Indians by Executive order dated December 21,

1882, except townships 162 and 163 north, range 71 west, be,

and the same is hereby, restored to the mass of the public

domain (Kappler, 1904, p. 885).



The Executive order dated March 29, 1884, whereby certain

lands in the Territory of Dakota previously set apart for the use

and occupancy of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa

Indians were, with the exception of townships 162 and 163

north, range 71 west, restored to the mass of the public domain,

is hereby amended so as to substitute township 162 north,

range 70 west, for township 163 north, range 71 west, the

purpose and effect of such amendment being to withdraw from

sale and settlement and set apart for the use and occupancy of

said Indians said township 162 north, range 70 west, in lieu of

township 163 north, range 71 west, which last-mentioned

township is thereby restored to the mass of the public domain

(Kappler, 1904, p. 885).



How are Indian reservations created?

It varies; some were created by treaties, acts of Congress, or executive orders.

The Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation was established by executive orders of

President Chester A. Arthur in 1882, and 1884.

Did the federal government give the Indians of the Turtle Mountains a


No, the tribe “reserved” the current reservation, which was originally a portion of

the other ten million acres, ceded (given up) to the U.S. Government in 1905

under the McCumber Agreement.


How many treaties or agreements have the Turtle Mountain Band

of (Pembina) Chippewa made with the United States?

Two, the Old Crossing Treaty of 1863

[commemorated above] and

the McCumber Agreement (“Ten-cent Treaty”) of 1892.

What is a treaty?

Treaties are formal agreements between the US Government and sovereign

nations, including Indian tribes according to the US Constitution, Article II.

Treaties are negotiated by the Executive Branch (the President) and are ratified

by US Senate. The US Government stopped making treaties with Indian tribes in



What is the “Treaty” or “LePay”?

The McCumber Agreement is what is usually referred to as “The Treaty” or “Le

Pay” in which the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa gave up a large portion of

what is now north central ND in return for certain benefits, including a payment

that amounted to ten cents per acre, giving the agreement another nickname of

the “Ten Cent Treaty.” The money wasn’t paid out until the Turtle Mountain Band

of Chippewa went to court and forced a settlement in 1980. The payout of the

monies were started in 1988 and continued until the last person who was alive

when the settlement was reached turned 18 years of age. The last payment was

made in 1998.

For a copy of the McCumber Agreement and the other treaties, go to:


The Treaty of Prairie du Chein of 1825

This treaty was to bring peace primarily between the Chippewa and Dakota

(though other tribes also signed, it also served as a source document for later

treaties between the United States government and these tribes

(Kappler, 1904,

p. 1).

The name comes from the French words for prairie dog, which once was

abundant on the Great Plains.

Who negotiated the Old Crossing Treaty of 1863?

Articles of a treaty made and concluded at the Old Crossing of Red Lake

River, in the State of Minnesota, on the second day of October, in the year

eighteen hundred and sixty-three, between the United States of America,

by their commissioners, Alexander Ramsey and Ashley C. Morrill, agent for

the Chippewa Indians, and the Red Lake and Pembina bands of

Chippewas; by their chiefs, head-men, and warriors

(Kappler, 1904, p.


Who signed (an “X” mark endorsement, which were commonly used

by Indians) the Old Crossing Treaty representing the Pembina

Chippewa, after amendments to original treaty was made by the U.S.

Government in April 1864?

Principal Pembina chief, Mis-co-muk-quah (Red Bear), Pembina headman, Tebish-

co-ge-shick (Equal Sky), Pembina warrior, I-inge-e-gaun-abe, (Wants


(Kappler, 1904, p. 862).





means “the first or original people”, it is the Anishinabe name for

ourselves. The spelling of Anishinabe has many variants including whether

the name is singular or plural, or depending on which tribe or band is using

the name. For example, the following are some of the variant usages:

Anishinabeg, Anicinape, Anishinaabeg, Anishinabek, or the slang word



is a phonetic spelling of the Métis denoting of mixed heritage, usually

Chippewa, Cree and French but other ethnic diversity is also included.


is another name of the Chippewa, and the word is a French term

meaning "people of the rapids," referring to a former tribal home site at

present day Sault Ste. Marie.


and Chippewa refer to the people originally called Anishinabe, the

word itself means, "puckering," probably referring to their characteristic

moccasin style worn by the Anishinabe.


is the name of a tribe of North American Indians that live in various

areas from the Rocky Mountains to near the Atlantic Ocean in both Canada

and United States.

Ethnic Diversity

has a long standing history among the Turtle Mountain

Band of Chippewa. The most obvious ethnic influence is French

. Many tribal

members have ancestors who trace their heritage to the province of Quebec,

Canada. Early intermarriages took place among the French with the

Chippewa and Cree Indians dating back to the early 1700’s. Thus, many

Turtle Mountain family surnames are identified as French, for examples:

Azure, LaFromboise, Desjarlet, and Parisien, etc. are common among tribal

enrolled members and or descendents. However, early governmental

enrollment documents record three names, including Chippewa or Cree,

French, and English names. In fact, the community of Belcourt is a French


name referencing the Catholic priest Father George A. Belcourt who lived and

travelled among the tribe’s people on buffalo hunts throughout the open


In addition, some tribal members have ancestral connections to countries in

the Middle East, such as Syria, and Lebanon. While other tribal members

share ancestral lineage to African-American, Hispanic, Germanic, Scottish,

Irish, and other ethic traditions.

Chippewa ceremonies and social customs:

What kind of Pow Wows do the

Chippewa host?

The Chippewa have held Pow

Wow celebrations or social

gatherings for centuries. These

Pow Wows were primarily social

events where the participants

shared dances, ceremonies, food,

and camaraderie. Some Pow

Wows are organized to pay cash to

all participants, while others pay

only dance and drum category

winners. In recent times the Pow Wows continued to maintain some traditions

while adapting to new customs. For example many traditions are interwoven into

specific ceremonies still performed at competition Pow Wows, such as “naming”,

“whistle-blowers”, “first-time dancers”, and others. Today, the Turtle Mountain

Band of Chippewa has two main Pow Wow arbors-- the Little Shell Pow Wow

arbor in Dunseith, ND and the Eagle Heart Pow Wow arbor located west of

Belcourt, ND. In historical times, the Pow Wow arbor was made with small trees

trunks, covered with fresh tree top branches and leaves to provide a shaded

covering for dancers and spectators. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa

also has several lodges, including Teaching and Sundance Lodges.

What Native ceremonies are practiced on or near the Turtle Mountain

Indian Reservation?

Many Native ceremonies are practiced by individuals and families. For example,

sweat lodge

ceremonies and pipe ceremonies are conducted by persons given

that right by spiritual leaders. The Alcohol and Drug treatment programs use this


ceremony to help those with addictions who are seeking sobriety and healing.


are celebrations of thanksgiving and honor sponsored by individuals

and their families to bestow gratitude for an accomplishment or period of

endurance, such as military service, graduation, birth of a child, or at the end of

the grieving period for the death of a relative.

What are the seven teachings of the Anishinabe?

The guiding principles of life, which the Anishinabe strive for, as recorded by

Edward Benton-Banai in the Mishomis Book, are wisdom, love, respect, bravery,

honesty, humility, and truth. The following inscriptions referring to the Seven

Teachings are noted on metal plaques embedded in concrete pillars at the

entrance of the Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, ND.

1. To cherish knowledge is to know


2. To know

love is to know peace.

3. To honor all creation is to have



Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave.


Bravery is to face the foe with integrity.


Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of creation.


Truth is to know all these things.

What are the original clans of the Anishinabe?

Ojibwa author Basil Johnston, offered the following in the book Ojibwa Heritage,

“Originally there were five totems representing the five needs of the people and

the five elementary functions of society. Later others were added.

Below is a partial list of Anishinabeg clans as identified by Johnston


1990, p. 60):

Leadership: Chejauk (crane)

Defense: Noka (bear) (pronounced Makwa in the Turtle Mountains)

Sustenance: Waubizhaezh (marten)

Learning: Mizi (catfish)

Medicine: Makinauk (turtle)

However, Benton Banai’s

(1988, p.74) of the Lac Court Oriellas Band of the

Ojibway Tribe gives the following account of the clan origins in his book called

The Book of Mishomis: “There are seven original o-do-i-daym’-i-wug (clans),”

including the

crane, loon, fish, bear, martin, deer, and bird.” Each of the clans

functioned to serve the people. “The crane and loon clans were given the power

of chieftainship. Between the two chief clans stood the fish clan. The fish clan

was made up of the intellectuals of the people. The bear clan served as the

police force of the people. The martin clan served as the warrior clan for the


people. The deer clan was known as the clan of gentle people. The bird

clan…represented the spiritual leaders of the people.”

What are some stories

and teachings in the

Turtle Mountains?

Many tribes taught the lessons of

life through a principal teacher

commonly referred to as a


. The trickster for the

Anishinabe (Chippewa/ Ojibwa) is

Nanabozho, although various

dialectical articulations are used

especially among the tribes and

bands of the Great Lakes region,

including Winabozho, Nanabush

and other variations. The Anishinabe, and many Northeastern tribes, commonly

visualized the “trickster” as a rabbit character.

Nanabozo “has been looked upon as kind of a hero by the Ojibway,” according to


(1988, p. 31). As the principal teacher Nanabozho insured the

survival of the Anishinabe for generations.

In addition, to the Nanabozho, the cultural heritage of the Turtle Mountain Band

of Chippewa is enriched with multi-ethnic traditions. Many tribal citizens were

once fluent speakers in several Native and European languages. This

multilingual heritage contributed to the teachings of Wishekaychak, the Cree

trickster. Wishekaychak stories generally begin with the image of a wandering

and hungry old man. Again, spellings of the title vary depending on the dialectic

and location of the Cree speaker. However, many of the Wishekaychak and

Nanabozho themes are comparable.

The rich folklore associated with the Turtle Mountain region includes other

characters like the Michif CheJohn, a half-witted and mischievous male figure.

The French Catholic Christian influnces are identified, especially during the

Lenton period, with the Le Rou-ga-roo, who was a milder version of the French

werewolf. It was common for stories to be told about a handsome man entering a

dance hall and seducing a vulnerable woman, upon leaving the bystanders would

identify Le rou-ga-roo by an exposed tail or hooves. Sometimes Le Rou-ga-roo

would take on the image of a large black dog.


Michif Customs:

What are the Michif dances?

The Michif (also known as “Metis” in Canada) dances included European style

jigs, quadrilles, waltzes and reels, with elements of Native steps incorporated to

some jigs.

What is a bush dance?

The bush dance was an event

held in the home of local person

on or near the Turtle Mountain

Indian Reservation. The host

removed most of their furniture

from their relatively small cabin

to make room for the expected

company of neighbors, friends,

and family members, who

would dance to fiddle music and share merriment, usually from dusk to dawn.

These types of gatherings were common through the 1960s.

How was a bush dance organized?

One version of this tradition was to have a local person host the bush dance, by

obtaining a cake or other token from the current host, which indicted that the next

bush dance would voluntarily be the responsibility of the person holding the cake

or token at the end of the current dance.

What are bundles?

The “bundles” referred to the packaged cloth bags made from an excess garment

of miscellaneous used clothing. They sold for minimal amounts of money

(perhaps at the time about 5 cents each) by the local St. Ann’s Catholic Church.

The St. Ann’s Benedictine nuns operated a second-hand store offering donated

clothing and other items. Many local tribal members and some non-tribal

members frequently competed rather vigorously to purchase large quantities of




What languages have been commonly used in our reservation community?

Different languages have been spoken in our community. The most commonly

used languages are English, Anishinabe, Cree, French, and Michif (a blend of

Anishinabe, Cree, and French). Your parents may have only spoken English. In

years past, adults spoke their languages quite commonly especially in their home

and with relatives and friends. There was no dominant language here. Instead,

there are four commonly used languages: English, Chippewa, Cree, and French.

Depending where you live and what your grandparents spoke usually determined

what languages you heard. Today the most commonly used language is English

followed by Michif, then Cree and then Chippewa.

A few common phrases:

English Michif Anishinabe

Hello/Hi Tánishi or boñjour Boozho or Anean

How are you? Tánishi kiya? Aaniin

Come over here Áshtum óta Ambe

Hazel Nuts Pucons Bagaan

Sneaky Keemooch Giimoozikaw (to sneak

up on)

Thank You Merci Megwich

Grandma Kokum Nookomis


What are land rights?

Although we often speak of people “owning land”, in an American legal context it

is more correct to say that people have obtained rights to inhabit and use land.

American jurisprudence has slowly evolved to consider property as not the


physical object but as a

“bundle of rights”

composed as legal

relationships such as

the “right to sell” or

“right to devise”.

Usually, these rights or

legal relations have

economic or sale value

if they are allowed to

be transferred.

Although native people

may treat and use the

land differently, the

concept that people

inhabit but do not own

the land is also found in Native American culture. “Some of our chiefs make the

claim that the land belongs to us. It is not what the Great Spirit told me. He told

me that the land belongs to him, that no people owns the land…” Kanekuk,

Kickapoo Prophet

(Indian Land Tenure, 2002/2007, n.p.)

What is Land in Trust or Federal Trust Land?

Land in Trust or Federal Trust land is Indian-owned land, the title to which is held

in trust and protected by the federal government. Indian people and tribes have

use of the land, but ultimate control of the land remains with the federal


(Indian Land Tenure, 2002/2007, n.p.)

What is an allotment?

The General Allotment Act of 1887, also referred to as the Dawes Act or the

Dawes Severalty Act, authorized the President of the United States to survey

Native American communal lands and divide the areas into allotments for

individual Native American families or persons. It was enacted February 8, 1887,

and named for its sponsor, U.S. Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. The

Act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act. The act remained

in effect until 1934. The allotments originally consisted of 40 to 160 acres in size.

Today, many of the Turtle Mountain allotments are highly fractionated or divided

among numerous heirs. There are stories of several hundred heirs to a single

allotment in places such as Turtle Mountain and Western North Dakota and

Eastern Montana.


What are “Fee Simple Lands” or “Taxable Lands”?

Land status is broken down into categories:

Tribal Trust Land

is land for which the US Government holds the

title in trust for an individual member of the tribe or for the tribe


Restricted Land

is land the title to which is held by an individual

member of the tribe or the tribe itself which can only be

encumbered by the owner with the permission of the BIA.

Fee Simple or Taxable Land

is land that is subject to ND State

property taxes owned by an individual member of the tribe or a nonmember.

Owning Fee Simple lands is most

basic form of ownership. The owner

holds title and control of the property.

The owner may make decisions

about the most common land use or

sale without government oversight.

In Indian country, however, whether

the owner of fee simple land is

Indian or non-Indian is a factor in

deciding who has jurisdiction over

the land. Due to the checker

boarding of Indian reservations,

different governing authorities - such

as county, state, federal, and tribal governments – may claim the authority to

regulate, tax, or perform various activities within reservation borders based on

whether a piece of land is Indian or non-Indian owned. These different claims to

jurisdictional authority often conflict. The case law relevant to jurisdiction on

these lands is complex and on some points inconsistent and unsettled.


Land Tenure, 2002/2007, n.p.).

What is fractionated land?

Fractionated land is an allotment owned by more than one owner. As these

owners died, the ownership in the land would again be divided among their

relatives, thus compounding over and over the number of ownership interests in

a parcel of land. These single pieces of land often have hundreds of owners,

which makes it difficult for any one of the owners to use the land (i.e. for farming

or building a home). By law, a majority of owners must agree to a particular use

of land

(Indian Land Tenure, 2002/2007, n.p.).


How can I find out if I have inherited some interest in fractionated land?

If you inherited an interest in fractionated land, you should have been notified

through the probate processing of that interest. However, if you have not been

notified and you suspect this is due to some error in the process, contact the

superintendent of the Turtle Mountain Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs,

located in Belcourt, ND.

(Indian Land Tenure, 2002/2007, n.p.).


What are the requirements to be an enrolled member of the tribe?

Membership in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa requires a one-quarterblood

quantum of Indian blood. (This is due to federal law and not the beliefs or

traditions of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.) The enrollment

office of the Turtle Mountain Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Belcourt,

ND, maintains the enrollment rolls for the tribe and is responsible for providing

documentation of one’s enrollment and for issuing Indian tribal membership

identification cards.

How many total enrolled members (citizens) comprise the Turtle Mountain

Band of Chippewa?

As of March 27, 2007, the total enrollment was 29,926.

(personal communication, Marion, 2007).

Did the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa have chiefs?


, prior to 1932 band leaders held the title of “Chief.” One of the last persons

to hold the title of “Chief” was Chief Kakenowash, and prior to him three

hereditary Chiefs by the name of Little Shell represented the band, along with

two hereditary Chiefs named Red Bear. Though others were referred to as

“Chiefs”, none were recognized as official.


How has the traditional government changed?

In 1891, a committee of sixteen mixed bloods and sixteen full bloods, called the

Committee of 32, replaced the traditional Grand Council of 24 members under

the hereditary leadership of Chief Little Shell

(U.S. Senate, 1900)

When did the title of Chief change to Chairman?

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa changed the title from

Chief to Chairman

with the 1932 adoption of new written constitution. Under this new constitution,

the advisory government was lead by Chairman Kanick (Walking With Thunder).

All succeeding leaders continued to use

Chairman as their executive title.

What is the extent of the jurisdiction of the Turtle Mountain Band of


The Turtle Mountain

Band Chippewa


jurisdiction over the

6 miles (northsouth)

by 12 miles


reservation and

claims jurisdiction

over lands acquired

for it and held in

trust by the US

Government. This

includes lands in

western North

Dakota and eastern

Montana that was

assigned to Turtle

Mountain members by treaty or agreement. There wasn’t enough land within the

6-mile by 12-mile reservation boundaries to give 180 acres to each male over 18

years of age, and so land off the reservation was allotted them. Many tribal

members, however, did not wish to leave their homelands, or could not for

economic reasons. As a result many sold their allotments sight unseen. Still

others found it difficult to keep track of their lands hundreds of miles away and

were taken advantage of by many interests (their lands were used without their

permission or their mineral rights were ignored.) With the passing of time, many

of these allotments became fractionated. Fractionation occurs when a section of

land is owned by a large number of individuals, usually through the original


owners dying without a will, or with a large number of heirs. Through repetitions

of this process, the land becomes owned by hundreds of people, becoming

virtually unmanageable. This also makes it easier for outside interests to take

advantage of not having one or a small group of owners to manage their land.

How is Trenton Indian Service Area (TISA) affiliated to the Turtle Mountain

Band of Chippewa?

There are approximately 1500 citizens that live in the community of Trenton, ND.

They are enrolled members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

How did the Trenton Indian Service Area originate?

Because there wasn’t enough land to give 180 acres to each member of the

band over the age of 18 years, land away from the reservation was allotted to the

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Tribal members living on allotments in

western North Dakota and eastern Montana become identified as the Trenton

Indian community. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa passed Ordinance

Number 28-A in 1981, authorizing the formation of a tribal organization called the

Trenton Indian Service Area (TISA), which includes the counties of Williams,

Divide, and McKenzie in North Dakota, and in Sheridan, Roosevelt, and Richland

in Montana.

Does TISA have a governing council?

Yes, the TISA Board of Directors consists of seven (7) governing members. Each

of TISA’s three (3) districts elects two (2) directors, and one chairperson is

elected at large.

Can the tribal citizens (members) of TISA vote in the tribal elections of the

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa?

Yes, refer to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa constitution for details. TISA

members may vote in state and national elections, and in TISA and TMBCI

elections. This make TISA a perhaps the only entity in the nation with this

political status, whereby citizens (members) are governed by a board (TISA)

within a tribe (TMBCI), within a state (ND) and nation (USA).


Who are the Little Shell Band of Pembina?

The Little Shell Band of Pembina were founded by Ronald Delorme who

renounced his membership in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. They are

primarily based in North Dakota (around the Walhalla region) and in Washington

(state), but members can be found across the nation. The group has split into

two competing factions, each using the same name. They claim to be a

sovereign Native American tribe, but are not recognized by the US Government.

They claim they are not subject to the laws of the United States and have

become involved with anti-government groups such as the “sovereign citizen

movement” and white supremacist groups.

They use the internet, videos, fax solicitations and seminars to promote

themselves and their activities, activities that include issuing bogus license

plates, insurance fraud schemes, tax evasion, and passport fraud. The Little

Shell Band of Pembina have allowed anyone, regardless of ancestry, to become

a member of the group, opening the door for a variety of anti-government figures

to join (for a fee) and claim membership in the "sovereign" Little Shell Band. As a

result, Little Shell Band activity spread around the country. The Little Shell Band

has more than 60 documented members, with probably a hundred more not yet

identified. People have joined from around the country, with larger numbers in

North Dakota, the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. Most of the

members are an eclectic and unusual collection of anti-government activists.





Who are the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana?

Headquartered in Great Falls, Montana, this band of the Chippewa Tribe is a

state-recognized tribe without a designated reservation in Montana. There are

over 4,000 enrolled members within the state, many of which live in the Great

Falls and surrounding area. The tribe is currently petitioning for federal

recognition, but is

not yet a federally recognized tribe. For more than 100 years

the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa have been landless Indians. The f


recognition, which they seek, would enable the tribe and its members to qualify

for government services and aid such as education and health-care funding. The

Little Shell Tribe members claim to be descendents of the Turtle Mountain Band

of Chippewa, with their ancestors following Chief Little Shell into Montana

following the controversial negotiations of the McCumber Agreement in 1892.


Consequently, the Little Shell Tribe continues to petition the United States for

federal recognition. For more information about the Little Shell Tribe contact their

official web site below.

Little Shell Tribal Council

P.O. Box 1384, 1807 3rd Street NW #35A

Great Falls, MT 59403

406-452-2892, Fax: 406-452-2982


What makes up the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribal government?

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians consists of a Tribal Council (that

includes a Tribal Chairman) and a Tribal Court system. The Tribal Council must

meet at least once a month and all its meetings are constitutionally required to be

open to the public unless they are discussing protected personnel information or

confidential business contracts. The Tribe is supported by Federal funds and by

a percentage of profits of the SkyDancer Casino. The tribe also gains revenue

from various Tribal programs that charge fees and interest from treaty funds.

How does the tribal government make laws?

The Tribal Council passes resolutions that require the Chairman’s signature in

order to become valid, much like the US Congress passes bills that require the

President’s signature to become law. The Chairman can veto what the Council

passes, but the Council can override a veto if at least five of them disagree with

the Chairman’s veto.

What is the Tribal Constitution?

The Turtle Mountain Tribal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It can

only be changed by a vote of the people. Changes to the constitution are called

amendments. The Tribal Code is a collection of laws that can be changed by the


Tribal Council without the vote of the people. The Council can pass an ordinance

to add to, or to change the Tribal Code and it can do so without a vote of the

people, but any such ordinance change or addition comes into effect only after

the public is given a 30 day notice in which they can make comments on the

proposed change or addition.

For a copy of the Constitution for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa,

go to:


What taxes do members of the TMBCI have to pay?

All enrolled members of the tribe have to pay all federal taxes, including federal

income tax. Enrolled members who live on the reservation and work on the

reservation do not have to pay North Dakota income taxes. North Dakota sales

taxes do not apply on the reservation. As of 2007, the Tribe is negotiating with

the state of North Dakota to end the collection of state gas taxes on the

reservation. As a sovereign nation, the Tribe can impose taxes on the

reservation, but as of 2007, has chosen not to.


Why are they called “the Turtle Mountains”?

There are several

theories as to how the

name “Turtle Mountains”

came about. One

account is that when

viewed from the south,

the hills appear as a

turtle on the horizon with

the head pointed west

and the tail pointed east.

Another account was

that it was named after

an Ojibwa Indian named

“Makinak” (turtle) who

walked the length of the


hills in just one day. Yet another theory is that the hills get their name from the

abundant numbers of turtles in the region.

What is the terrain of the Turtle Mountains like?

The Turtle Mountains are approximately 600 to 800 feet higher than the

surrounding plains. As a result they receive more precipitation than the

neighboring grasslands. This increased availability of water enables the hills to

be forested. The modern Turtle Mountains contain hundreds of lakes, ponds,

and sloughs. The Turtle Mountains straddle the border between the US and

Canada and occupy an area of nearly a thousand square miles.

What trees and bushes are found in the Turtle Mountains?

Trees that make up the forests include aspen, black poplar, ash, birch, box elder,

elm and bur oak. Bushes like hazel, chokecherry, Saskatoon, dogwood, high

bush cranberry and pincherry also make the Turtle Mountain their home.


Bluemle ND Geological Survey http://www.nd.gov/ndgs/NDNotes/ndn15-h.htm)

How were the Turtle Mountains created geologically?

The Turtle Mountains were formed from sediment deposited from glaciers

retreating after the last ice age as a glacier that formed Lake Agassiz retreated.

The Turtle Mountains were free from ice before the surrounding areas, making it

the first area in the region to be inhabited by animals and humans.


Bluemle ND Geological Survey




What animals are found in the Turtle


Animals that currently make the Turtle

Mountains their home include deer, raccoons,

red squirrels, gophers, rabbits, moose, the

occasional black bear, bobcat, and mountain

lion, muskrats, beavers, skunks, porcupines,

turtles, salamanders, garter snakes, frogs,

ducks, geese, and other birds, as well as insects like the mosquito, ants, and

ticks. With the coming of the Europeans, the Turtle Mountains now also are

home to dogs, cats, cattle and horses.






Land Marks:

1 Bunagee’s Corner

2 Azure’s Store

3 Jackrabbit Road

4 Fish Lake

5 Windmill corner

6 Green Acres Housing

7 Eagleview Housing

8 Shell Valley Housing

9 Crick Housing

10 South Cluster Housing

11 North Dunseith Housing

12 East Dunseith Housing

13 St. Benedict’s Church

14 SkyDancer Casino

15 St. Anthony’s Church

16 Ojibwa Millennium School

17 San Haven

18 Tribal Headquarters

19 Turtle Mountain Community College

20 Fish Lake Road



What is the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

The Turtle Mountain Tribe has existed as an autonomous government within the

United States because early treaties recognized the Band’s sovereignty. The

United States government promised “health, education, and welfare” in exchange

for aboriginal lands. This unique relationship gives rise to several institutions that

manage these services including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian

Heath Service. These institutions are the major employers on the reservation,

with over 600 teachers, nurses, bus drivers, mechanics, road workers, janitors,

cooks, policemen and others.

[Turtle Mountain Agency of the BIA, 1938]

The United States Department of Interior funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs to

manage the trust assets of the nation’s over 500 tribes. There are 12 Area

Offices nationwide, responsible for recording, collecting and investing revenue

generated by tribal treaties, lands and minerals. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has

an Area Office at Aberdeen South Dakota, which serves the entire area of North

Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and parts of Minnesota.



In the Great Plains Region, the Turtle Mountain Agency is responsible for the

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. It estimates that the total enrollment of the

Band, (including those in the Trenton Indian Service Area) will reach 30,000 by

mid-summer of 2007.


What are the functions of the local BIA Agency?

The Turtle Mountain Agency is responsible for the land holdings of the Turtle

Mountain Chippewa and individual members, about 80,000 acres, with an equal

amount managed by the B.I.A. Agency in Billings, MT. Its mission is developing

forestlands, leasing assets on these lands, directing agricultural programs,


protecting water and land rights, developing and maintaining infrastructure and

economic development. It oversees about 600 federal employees in the local

schools, hospital, road and police departments.

(personal communication with

Davis 2007)

[Turtle Mountain Agency of the BIA, 2007]

A Deputy Superintendent assists the Agency Superintendent for Trust Services

(Forestry and Fire, Natural Resources, Probate and Real Estate) and a Deputy

Superintendent for Indian Services (Property, Facilities, Human Services, Job

Placement, Probation, Transportation, Tribal Operations and Self-Determination).

It also provides education for approximately 3,300 students in Rolette County.

(BIA/Turtle Mt. Agency Superintendent’s Meeting Handbook, August 18, 2005.)

What terms were commonly used to identify the BIA Superintendent?

The BIA superintendent’s title has also been referred to as “farmer-in-charge,”

“boss-farmer,” and “Indian agent.” Most of these terms were used in the past,

especially before 1950.

Can Native Americans be BIA Superintendents?

Yes, although through most of U.S. History, non-Native Americans held these

posts. It was not until after Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, that Native

Americans were given preference for jobs within the BIA, and other federal


What is a BIA 638-contract


The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 allowed

tribes to "contract" to provide some of the services the BIA provides, including


school systems and law enforcement. This allowed additional employment

opportunities to tribes.

What are the Service Area’s distinctions?

TMBCI is one of few Indian tribes in the country who allow the BIA to record their

membership. The Tribe is also a “non-IRA” tribe, rejecting the Indian

Reorganization Act in favor of tribal law and a tribal constitution. The Tribal

Council has resolved that it does not need BIA approval to amend its own

constitution, a necessary step in Bureau regulations.

In 2005, the Turtle Mountain Agency estimated that there were 14,584 enrolled

members who were unemployed, ages 16 through 64, resulting in 65.7%


(BIA/TMA Labor Market Report, 2005)

To combat the historically high unemployment rates in Indian Country, each

Agency’s Employment Assistance Office offers vocational scholarships, and the

local Credit Office will give Loan Guarantees for some small businesses. The

Social Service Office accepts some 600 clients each month for “general


What is the Indian Health Service?

Native Americans are guaranteed health care services if they live on or near an

Indian reservation. Urban natives can locate off-reservation clinics, but the entire

federal program is historically under-funded. The local service unit of the Indian

Health Service (IHS) serves Rolette County and covers approximately 938

square miles.

What does the local IHS offer?

The Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health

Care Facility

[as seen on the left],

occupied in 1994, employs

approximately 250 people, with around

another 50 positions vacant. The

Service Unit Director is in charge of the

hospital and clinic, as well as a kidney

dialysis unit, a cancer care clinic,

eyeglass center and transportation. The

facility provides 29 beds in the hospital,

an emergency room with air ambulance

landing pad, and a new clinic that


serves over 200 outpatients per day. The pharmacy fills over 500 prescriptions

per day, while the dental clinic serves 30 to 40 patients per day.

The many vacant positions are due to the critical shortage of doctors willing to

relocate their practice to North Dakota. Much of the hospital’s resources spent on

transportation and costs associated with contract health care at the state’s larger

hospitals. Individuals who have health related degrees have the option of joining

the IHS as civil servants or as commissioned officers in the Public Health Service

(PHS). These professionals fill much of the local need by serving short periods of

employment, from three to six months. The IHS also has 20 homes and 30

apartments available for staff quarters.

The earliest IHS building was an old army barracks set up in 1914, followed by a

two-story, brick building erected in 1931

[as seen below]. The front unit of the

present facility was built in 1966, and still houses the current hospital wing.



What other names are used for Indian governing entities?

Besides tribes, titles such as confederated/affiliated tribes, rancherias, pueblos,

or nations are common names for federally recognized tribal governments.

How many federally recognized Indian tribes exist today?

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs records over 300 groups

mostly in the lower 48 states, and another approximately 200 Native Alaskan

business corporations.


How many people does the government of the Turtle Mountain Band of

Chippewa employ?

The Tribe employs about 450 people at the casino and other tribal operations

and programs. It sets policy, approves budgets and seeks grants and contracts,

while complying with many federal mandates including the Indian Child Welfare

Act (adoptions approved by the tribe), and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

(governing compacts with the state).

The Turtle Mountain Tribal Court, Appellate Court and Law Enforcement are

operated under BIA 638-contracts. An Alernative and Drug Court are also

available. Other 638 contracts include Land Survey, Forestry, Fire,

Transportation Planning, Janitorial, Home Improvement, Family Services,

Noxious Weeds, Dam Safety, Water Resources, and Fish/Wildlife/Parks.

Tribal Budgets are split between Tribal, Federal and State Funds. Some federal

funds come from the Department of Justice (Equipment, COPS, Personnel,

Domestic Violence, STOP grant, Court Enhancement, Drug Court), the

Environmental Protection Agency Region VIII, (Water Quality, Brownsfield), and

the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Block Grant, Disaster,

Facilities, Indian Home, Preservation). The Master Health Program augments the

IHS service budget. The Headstart Program, BIA educational programs, and

Fines and Fees collections comprise other large parts of the tribal budget.

The Turtle Mountain Housing Authority employs 98 people and provides some

1,500 homeownership units and another 300 rental units distributed in the 15

housing sites in and around the reservation. Currently, the TMHA is a Tribally

Designated Housing Authority for Native American Housing Assistance and Self

Determination Act (NAHASDA). TMHA also operates a Retirement Home, lowrent

elderly units, and a senior center in St. John.

Tribal funds include profits from

tribal businesses, including

SkyDancer Casino

, which began

as a small room adjacent to the

tribal bowling alley, in 1992. It

offered blackjack, slot machines

and pull-tabs. An interim building

that now serves as the Tribal

Headquarters housed the casino

from 1993 to 2004. An adjacent

“sprung” building was also

erected and still serves today as

the Bingo Palace.

Today, the hotel/casino complex

[see above] has 495 slot machines, table

games, dice, roulette, simulcast horseracing, and a restaurant and bar. It


employs 320 people. Live horse races are also held at Chippewa Downs

racetrack during the first three weeks in June.

Some of the Tribe’s other businesses include the Turtle Mountain Manufacturing

Company, Uniband data processing, DynaBand call center, Home Media

Technologies and Chippewa Tribal Industries. The tribe also operates a public

utilities station, a motor vehicle department (with tribal license plates), a day care,

two fitness centers, women’s and youth shelters, a radio station, a newspaper,

and garbage transfer station. The Northwest Area Foundation Pathways to

Prosperity grant ($10 million over 10 years to 2016) is helping to reduce poverty.

What are the schools in the community?

In 1882, a federal act authorized the use of any abandoned military facilities for

the education of Indian children. Many Belcourt children were forced into

boarding schools at Fort Totten and Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Marty,

Flandreau and Pierre, South Dakota, Chemawa, Oregon and boarding schools in

other states.

[Wahpeton Indian School Students 1956]

Later, a number of one or two-room day schools were opened including Roussin

School, Houle School and Shell Valley schools. By 1914, the schools offered

freshmen and sophomore high school classes.

Currently, the BIA operates three schools: The Turtle Mountain Community

Elementary School, the Turtle Mountain Middle School and the Dunseith Day

School. The Turtle Mountain Tribe administers 638-contracts to operate the

Turtle Mountain Community High School and the Ojibwa Indian School.

Turtle Mountain Middle School

operates as a Public Law 95-561 school with a

five member governing board. In the near future, the students in grades 6

through 8 will occupy the current high school.


Turtle Mountain Community High


is operated by the Tribe

under a Public Law 638-contract with

the BIA, through the auspices of the

Belcourt School Board. The high

school is a Public Law 100-297 tribal

grant school with a nine member

governing board, which address

policy issues for the Bureau of Indian

Affairs, a federal agency. A new


[as seen left] will house the


th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students

in the fall of 2007.

In addition, the Turtle Mountain Community Schools have a state district school

board that sets policy for the elementary, middle, and high school to maintain

compliance with state law. The state district governing board consists of seven

members. Thus, the TMCS system has an integrated governing organization of


The Ojibwa Indian School:

The Ojibwa Indian School is a Public Law 100-297

tribal grant school and operates under a seven member governing board. The

new Ojibwa Millennium School is located west of Belcourt near the site of the old

Sister’s Convent and tribal racetrack. The new campus will house Kindergarten

through 8

th grades, beginning in the fall of 2007, with hopes of providing high

school classes to its 282 students (enrollment as of 2005). OIS is also a tribal

contract school.

The Dunseith Day School

is a Bureau of Indian Affairs institution that operates

as a Public Law 95-561 school with a five member governing board.

Turtle Mountain Community


was founded in 1972.

Originally located on Main Street

Belcourt, it moved to its current

new facility in 1999. TMCC

overlooks Fish (Belcourt) Lake, and

incorporates the Seven Teachings

into campus architecture. The

main building is shaped as a

thunderbird, with 33 classrooms,

an 800-seat auditorium, a

gymnasium, weight room and

track, and parking for 1,000. In

addition to the 26 associate

degrees offered at TMCC, Bachelor of Science degrees in Early Childhood

Education and Secondary Science are offered. Also, on-site degrees through the


University of Mary are offered in Business Administration. The collection of

buildings on main street in Belcourt that served as the Old Campus now house

the Building Trades, G.E.D. program, Print Shop, Substance Abuse Prevention,

and other programs. The primary campus is located on the south shore of

Belcourt Lake and includes nature trails, a roundhouse, and a new construction

trades building slated for completion in 2008.

St. Ann’s Catholic School

was built in 1934-35 by Father Hildebrand Elliot, of

the Oblates of Saint Benedict in Marty, South Dakota. He requested the help of

five Catholic nuns from the Ferdinand, Indiana convent. No tuition was charged,

and support was solely from the mission benefactors. Previously, 80% of Indian

students attended regional boarding schools in Flandreau and Marty, South

Dakota, or in Fort Totten or Wahpeton, ND. In 1974, the Turtle Mountain tribe

took over the school, and renamed it Ojibwa Indian School. After the school

relocates in 2007, the old landmark school will become the home of St. Ann’s

Mission School, once again. St. Ann’s parish opened its doors to K through 6


graders in 2002, and boasted 39 students at the end of school year 2005.

What is St. Ann’s?

St Ann’s Catholic Church overlooks

downtown Belcourt and includes the

church, a bed and breakfast that was

formerly a nun’s house, a bus

garage, two classroom buildings and

a gymnasium. The ministerial duties

are now provided by the Society of

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity of

Texas. The spiritual center for most

of the tribe’s Christian history, St.

Ann’s parish also consists of rural St.

Benedict’s and St. Anthony’s

churches, and St. Michael’s church

in Dunseith.

(conversation with Wilkie. April, 2007)

What Service Organizations are there in the community?

Service Organizations include the Knights of Columbus with their 3

rd Degree

Knights celebrating 40 years in the Belcourt community in 2006, and their 4


Degree Knights observing 25 years in 2008. The Veterans of Foreign Wars

maintain Post #4516 and have operated continuously for decades.


What businesses are in Belcourt?

The Turtle Mountain Mall is the heart of Belcourt, housing the local post office,

Jollie’s supermarket, a dollar store, barbershop and café. The Jollie’s purchased

the mall from the tribe in 1994. The Turtle Mountain Mall Addition lies across a

small street from the post office and houses the mini-casino, a Chinese

restaurant, and a TV satellite dish company. A vacant bowling alley and a tribal

bar are also in the addition.

There are three convenience stores within the community

, a fast food drive-up,

an oil company, supermarket, a video store, a bed&breakfast, a cable company

and two restaurant locations. A strip mall is under construction, as is a feed

supply store. There are four small bars and many small businesses operating on

the reservation, including three multi-million dollar construction companies, some

trucking firms, and many sub-contractors. The FDIC recently approved an

application from local investors to form Turtle Mountain State Bank.

Who are other employers in the area?

Benchmark Electronics of Dunseith, ND, formerly operating as Pemstar, Inc., has

produced circuit boards and other products since the mid-1970s. About half of its

200 employees are tribal members.

The William Langer Jewel Bearing Plant in Rolla has historically employed Tribal

members to produce jewel bearings for watches and precision instruments. In

1996, the Rolla Development Corporation bought the plant from Bulova Watch

Company, and renamed it MicroLap Technologies. It employs about 40 tribal

members, about 85% of its employees.

San Haven hospital

[as seen above] was purchased by the Turtle Mountain

Band in 1994 from the State of North Dakota. It qualified for renovation funds,


but remains vacant. At one time it employed about 90 Tribal members and

treated tuberculosis patients, many of whom were also tribal members. It later

became a mental health facility.

Ellick Funeral Home is prominently located on Belcourt’s western edge, with its

main offices in Rolla. The Ellicks purchased the former Niewhoener Funeral

home, which had operated since 1933.



Several sources exist on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, in particular.

Patrick “Aun nish e naubay” Gourneau and his son Charlie “White Weasel”

Gourneau have both written brief history books about the Turtle Mountain Band

of Chippewa. The book “History of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa

Indians” was published in 1971

In 1985, St. Ann’s Catholic Church published “100 Years of History” a 200-page

collection of photographs and family biographies. The book has not been

reprinted, and is now a collector’s item among parish members.

The Turtle Mountain Community College and the North Dakota State Department

of Public Instruction published “The History and Culture of the Turtle Mountain

Band of Chippewa” in 1997. The book is out of print, but available for

reproduction at the TMCC Library.

In 2007, tribal member Dan Jerome published a retrospective of the Band’s

educational system entitled “The Trail of Misgivings, A Scourging Journey: A

Comprehensive Study of the Formal Education of the Turtle Mountain Band of

Chippewa Indians.” It is available from the author at 477-3819.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Turtle Mountain Agency, maintains yearly

reservation labor statistics. The Turtle Mountain Tribe conducted its own census

in 2002 and data from it can be requested from the Tribal Planning Department.

In addition, the state’s four university libraries have archives that pertain to the


What are some important phone numbers in our community?

(all phone numbers are in the 701 Area Code except where as noted)

5th Generation


Adult Probation Office


Belcourt Fire Hall


Belcourt Fitness



Belcourt Senior Meals


Belcourt Traffic &

Highway Safety


Block Grant


Child Care Block



Child Protection




Child Welfare &





Chippewa Downs

Race Track






Development Block







Community Health



Community Daycare


Criminal Investigation


Dog Pound





Dunseith Day School


Dunseith Elementary




Dunseith Fitness



Dunseith High School


Education P.L. 93-638





Enrollment (TM






Even Start Program


Facility Management


Fire Department


Food Bank


Headstart – Belcourt


Headstart – Dunseith


Headstart – Dunseith



Headstart – Shell



Headstart – St. John


Health Education


Hearts of Hope


Home Improvement

Block Grant


Indian Alcohol &

Substance Abuse


Job Service North



JOBS Program


Jobs Training

Partnership Act



KEYA Radio


Law Enforcement


Lenoir Dialysis Center




Assistance Program


Little Shell Youth



Master Health



Motor Vehicle



Natural Resources


Nutrition/Senior Meals


Ojibwa Indian School


Pathways to



Probation and Parole


Property & Supply


Public Defenders



Public Utilities


Pull Tab Department


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility



Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Appointment Desk


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Business Office


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Contract Health


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Dental Clinic


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Diabetes Program


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility



Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

East Clinic


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Eye Clinic


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility



Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Medical Records


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

Nursing Program


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility



Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility



Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

West Clinic


Quentin Burdick

Health Care Facility

WIC Program


Records Management


Renewal Community




Retirement Home


Rolette Schools


Rolla High School


SkyDancer Hotel &



Social Services


St. John Public



Strategies Against



BIA Superintendent

TM Agency


Tobacco Coalition





Traffic Safety


Tribal Attorney


Tribal Chairman’s



Tribal Contracting



Tribal Court System


Tribal Diabetes


Tribal Employment

Rights Ordinance


Tribal Facility



Tribal Finance


Tribal Fitness Center


Tribal Forestry


Tribal Gaming


Tribal Headquarters


Tribal Health

Education Program


Tribal Home



Tribal Land



Tribal Personnel



Tribal Planning &


Development Office


Tribal Property and



Tribal Prosecutor


Tribal Scholarship



Tribal Surveyor


Tribal Transportation



Tribal Youth




Turtle Mountain

Community College


Turtle Mountain

Community Schools


Turtle Mountain Head




Turtle Mountain

Housing Authority


Turtle Mountain




Turtle Mountain Star


Turtle Mountain Times




Uniband Inc.


Victims of Crime


Water Resource




Work Enforcement




Brimley, V., Jr., & Garfiled, R. (2005). F

inancing Education in a Climate of Change (A.

Burvikovs, Ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 25


Indian Land Tenure Foundation website:


Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Vol. II (Treaties)

in part. Compiled and edited by

Charles J. Kappler. Washington : Government Printing Office, 1904.

Indian Land Tenure Foundation

. (2007). (Original work published 2002) Retrieved

February 3, 2007, from



Johnston, B. (1990).

Ojibway Heritage. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Kappler, C. (1904).

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties (Volume II (Treaties) in part).

Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Rhoads, C. J. (1932, December).

Misc.55703-32. Letter presented at the Letter from the

Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC.

U.S. Senate, 56th Congress. (1900).

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (U.S.

Senate, 56th Congress, 1st Session, document 444). Washington, DC: U.S.

Government Printing Office.



Other website resources:

American Indian Higher Education Consortium:


American Indian Science and Engineering Society:


American Indian Radio On Satellite:


Association of Indian Affairs Scholarships:


Benchmark Electronics, Dunseith, ND, (formerly Pemstar):


Bureau of Indian Affairs:


Center for Multi-lingual, Multi-Cultural Research – Native American Resources:


Dunseith Public Schools:


Glacial Lake Agassiz information:


Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians (Montana):


Little Shell Band of Pembina:



National Congress of American Indians:


National Indian Education Association:


National Society for American Indian Elderly:


Native American Athletics:


Native American College Fund:


Native American News:


Native American Educational Websites:



Native American Nonprofit Resources on the Internet:


North Dakota Geological Survey (John Bluemle):



North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission:


Tribal Leaders Directory (as of June 2007):


Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI) official website:


Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Treaties:


Turtle Mountain Community College:


Turtle Mountain Community College’s Project Peacemaker:


Turtle Mountain Community Schools:


Turtle Mountain Comprehensive Healthcare Facility website:


Turtle Mountain Provincial Park information:


Turtle Mountain Tribal Code:


Turtle Mountain Tribal Constitution:


Turtle Mountain Tribal Court Orders:


Turtle Mountain Tribal Rules of Court and Codes of Conduct:



Picture Credits:

Page 1 TMCC Archive beadwork – Courtesy of TMCC Archives and Orie


Page 5 Turtle Mountain Scenery College Road Summer – Courtesy of

Les LaFountain

Page 7 Old Crossing Treaty Site 1 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 8 Chief Little Shell III – Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Page 8 Chief Kakenowash -- Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution (negative 52927)

Page 9 Chairman Kanick -- Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 11 President Chester Arthur – US Library of Congress, digital ID cph.3a53294

Page 12 Old Crossing Treaty Site 2 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 14 Birch Bark Bucket 1 -- Courtesy of TMCC Archives and Les LaFountain

Page 15 Little Shell Pow Wow Dancers 2007 – Courtesy of Josette Lajimodiere

Page 17 Metal Bear Sculpture at Anishinabe – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 18 John B. Houle Old and New Home July 25, 1938 – Courtesy of Les


Page 20 Turtle Mountain Scenery Sweet Clover – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 21 Turtle Mountain Lake 2 -- Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 23 Turtle Mountain Scenery Lake and Trees 1 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 26 TMBCI Tribal Seal – Design by Bruce Allery, photo courtesy of Scott Belgarde

Page 27 Turtle Mountain Buffalo Horizon – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 28 Turtle Mountain Tribal Buffalo Park 1 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain


Page 29 Turtle Mountain Land Mark Map – Courtesy of Scott Belgarde

Page 30 Turtle Mountain Agency Jan 21, 1938 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 31 Turtle Mountain Agency 2007 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 32 Indian Health Service Front Summer – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 33 IHS Hospital Jan, 1938 – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 34 Casino and Hotel Summer – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 35 Wahpeton Indian School Graduation 1956 -- Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 36 New Turtle Mountain Community High School (under construction June 2007)

– Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 36 Turtle Mountain Community College Front View Summer – Courtesy of Les


Page 37 St. Ann’s Church and Playground Summer – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 38 San Haven Hospital – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Page 39 TMCC Archive willow basket – Courtesy of TMCC Archives and Orie Richard

Page 48 Sculpture at IHS – Courtesy of Les LaFountain

Special Thanks To:

Francis Abbott Allard

Dr. Virginia Allery

Dr. Duane Champagne

Dr. Carol Ann Davis

Dr. Denise Lajimodiere

Susanne Nadeau