Darrell “Chip” Wadena, who served as the tribal chairman of the White Earth Chippewa in Minnesota for 20 years from 1976 to 1996, walked on June 24 after a long illness. He was 75.
Even though he was a controversial figure, he maintained a good reputation on the reservation, reports DL-Online.
“I want people to remember him for the good he has done,” current tribal chair Erma Vizenor told the StarTribune. “Serving in tribal office is not an easy job.”
Vizenor actually led the charge to oust Wadena in 1996, the same year he was convicted of 15 federal charges. He served 33-months in prison for embezzlement, money laundering and rigging construction bids for the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, DL-Online reported.
But he was remembered by Former Minnesota Majority Leader Roger Moe as a friend who “made a mistake” and did good things for the tribe otherwise, Moe told DL-Online.
“He was smart and he was smart politically,” Moe said. “He was a good politician. He paid attention to what the White Earth people wanted and tried to respond.”
During Wadena’s time running the tribe he met with Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton at the White House.