Skip to main content

Longtime White Earth tribal chairman 'Chip' Wadena dies

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Darrell "Chip" Wadena, who served as chairman of the White Earth Ojibwe tribe in northwestern Minnesota for 20 years, died Tuesday at age 75.

Forum News Service reports Wadena led the tribal government until 1996, when he was convicted of embezzlement and other corruption charges. The conviction also involved money laundering and rigging bids for the construction of Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen. Forum News says Wadena served a 33-month prison term.

Erma Vizenor led a group of activists that worked to oust Wadena. Vizenor was elected tribal chair in 1996 and continues to hold that post.

Commenting on Wadena's death, Vizenor tells the Star Tribune "I want people to remember him for the good he has done. Serving in tribal office is not an easy job."

The Star Tribune says Wadena earned a reputation for dealing effectively with state and federal officials to bring housing and health care to reservations and took part in White House meetings with Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

His daughter, Ann Brown, tells the newspaper that Wadena had been treated for a long illness before his death.

Wadena's downfall was the subject of a 1999 documentary, "Super Chief," by filmmaker Nick Kurzon.

But even after his conviction by a federal jury in St. Paul, Wadena remained popular on the White Earth reservation.

MPR News reported in 2004 on his bid to regain the tribal chairmanship. Forum News reports Wadena won a majority of the votes cast on the reservation that year, but absentee ballots from tribal members who live elsewhere allowed Vizenor to be re-elected. The following year the tribe amended its constitution to prohibit convicted felons from holding office.

Next Up

walz flanagan lorie shaull flickr

Gov. proposes 'Walz Checks' for most Minnesotans

The governor wants to use $700 million of the state's surplus to fund the payments.

Hutch crash booking photo

Walz, Flanagan call on Hennepin Co. sheriff to resign

"I would say that it is time for him to resign," the Lt. Gov. said.

line 3 enbridge portage lake hubbard county mn tony webster flickr

Months after missing deadline, Enbridge says Line 3 aquifer breach is fixed

The company told Bring Me The News it "successfully stopped the flow of groundwater" at the site.

canada bodies found

Baby, teenager among 4 found dead along MN, Canada border

Authorities believe all four froze to death.

unsplash roller rink skates CROP

Former roller rink, tennis courts will become new sports hub

The Wooddale Fun Zone has been closed since spring of 2020.

hibachi daruma

Popular hibachi food truck opens second Twin Cities restaurant

The much-anticipated Daruma opens for takeout Thursday evening.

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

Kris Ehresmann

One of Minnesota's key COVID-19 leaders is retiring

Kris Ehresmann has given more than 30 years of her life to public health in Minnesota.

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

snow

3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 10.45.51 AM

Video: Inebriated Sheriff Dave Hutchinson after high-speed crash

Hutchinson was unaware of his location and repeatedly said he wasn't driving.

Related

Stanley Crooks, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community chairman, dies at 70

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has confirmed that SMSC Chairman Stanley Crooks died Saturday at age 70. Condolences have been rolling out including a tweet from Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, who said, "Sad to hear of the passing of SMSC Chairman Stanley Crooks today. Our deepest condolences to his family and the entire SMSC."