Live blog: 'I do ... chi miigwetch' says Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

ICT editorial team

Updated: 6:25 p.m. Central. This story will be updated throughout the day.

Viewers can find Peggy Flanagan swearing-in on the Facebook video above starting at 47:49.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan hugs her daughter after getting sworn-in. #NativeMN #NativesInOffice #Ojibwe – at Fitzgerald Theater. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

​​Live updates from St. Paul, Minnesota, where Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation, and Tim Walz take office as the Lt. Gov. and Gov.

"Thank you, Minnesota, chi miigwetch." With those words, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan takes office as highest ranking Native American woman in an executive office in the country. "I never imagined that I would say that."

She said: "When I ran for the state legislature, I fell in love with my district. When I ran for Lieutenant Governor, traveling across our state, I fell deeper in love with Minnesota."

She also praised the late Sen. Paul Wellstone "whose last campaign was my first." ​

​”Our people talk about walking in two worlds. I reject that notion. I’M AN OJIBWE WOMAN. I’m an Ojibwe woman all the time. I’m an Ojibwe woman. I’m a mother. I’m a Minnesotan.”

Associate Justice Anne McKeig, White Earth Nation

Governor Tim Walz was also sworn in. He praised Lt. Flanagan as well. "Lieutenant Governor Flanagan—thank you for your leadership, your vision, and your passion. You make Minnesota proud. Miigwech."

The new governor also took a swipe at Washington and dysfunction in government. "We find ourselves at a time when economic, social, racial, and geographic division feels rampant. I will not normalize behavior that seeks to deepen and exploit these divides. I will not normalize policies that are not normal—ones that undermine our decency and respect. If Washington won’t lead, Minnesota will," he said.

@LtGovFlanagan’s daughter chose to stay on stage with @GovTimWalz while her mommy gave her address to the room. Laughter followed when she chose to stay on stage with them. – at Fitzgerald Theater.

He called education the highest priority. He said: "We must make Minnesota the “Education State” for all children—black, white, brown, and Indigenous.

Gov. Walz also praised the first people and the idea of bringing people together. "Unity is our tradition," he said. "Our ancestors - from the original Anishinaabe and Dakota people of this state to the immigrant farmers - carved out a life in the unforgiving cold."

Associate Justice Anne McKeig, White Earth Nation, who is the 1st Native American justice appointed to the Supreme Court in Minnesota, officiated Lt. Gov. Flanagan’s oath into office today. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

​How big a deal is the election of a Native woman to a state's second-highest office? First it's worth mentioning that Peggy Flanagan is not the first Native woman in that post. Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson, Yupik, served from October to December after being appointed to replace Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, Tlingit.

There have been 23 campaigns for statewide offices.

(Data and photo by Mark Trahant)

​On Facebook, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, wrote: "I am holding back tears of gratitude as I am waiting to see my sister take the oath of office for Lt. Governor. She is opening the door for so many. The eagle staff on stage and the drum along with Peggy Flanagan in her ribbon dress and moccasins are here to remind Minnesota of the first Minnesotans!"

Lt. Gov. Flanagan stands next to Gov. Tim Walz in her Ojibwe dress and moccasins in the Fitzgerald Theater. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begay​e)

​6:25 p.m. Central

A public reception was held at the Capitol building in St. Paul. Supporters of Walz and Flanagan gathered in the Rotunda socializing and placed themselves where they could see the podium wearing their blue "One Minnesota" buttons.

Lt. Gov. Flanagan entered the Rotunda to address guests.

After giving her short speech, she paused every now and the saying, "It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, to introduce to you," she stops, smiles and continues, "let me just take a minute." She shakes her head while smiling and gripping the podium. The crowd laughs. "Because I know I'm going to do this over and over again for the next four -- or eight -- years. But it feels really, really good to say Minnesotans let me introduce to you your governor. Governor Tim Walz."

The new governor and lieutenant governor had some visitors from opponents of the line 3 pipeline. They chanted from below within the crowd and above in the Rotunda. Three pipeline banners rolled down from the sides.

Walz invited them down to talk right after his speech. But first, he told them to let him finish his speech.

Gov. Walz waves down line 3 opponents and tehlls them he could have a conversation with them after his speech. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

After the reception, Walz and Flanagan stayed to sign autographs, take photos and speak with reception attendees.

Flanagan listens to a constituent after the reception. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

Outside the Capitol opponents held signs reading, "Protect Water Stop Line 3."

3:07 p.m. Central

The house was packed at The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Less than two hours before Flanagan told me that today's ceremony would be "very personal." Meaning it would incorporate her Objiwe culture as she was not the only Ojibwe on stage.

Besides the drum group, Associate Justice Anne McKeig of the White Earth Nation officiated Flanagan's oath into office. McKeig is also the first Native American woman appointed to the Supreme Court in Minnesota. Robert Durant, White Earth Nation, carried the staff during the presentation of the colors.

Robert Durant of the White Earth Nation carried the staff during the presentation of the colors. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

Flanagan's family stood by her side as she took an oath to office.

Flanagan holds her daughter while standing next to her parents before taking oath to office. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

After her oath and address to the packed theater was a standing ovation accompanied by the 'yeahs,' 'woo's,' claps, whistles and a few warrior cries. -- Jourdan Bennett-Begaye

Flanagan gives her first remarks as lieutenant governor of Minnesota. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

11:37 a.m. Central

Voting rights across the country will be a key issue in the next year. One of the firsts acts of the new Congress is an election reform bill. Minnesota's Secretary of State Steve Simon makes that pitch as well. He reports that Minnesota voter turnout was the highest it's been for a midterm election since 2002. According to preliminary estimates from the Secretary of State's Office, nearly 2.6 million Minnesotans voted in-person on Tuesday or by absentee ballot. That's about 63.8 percent of eligible voters in the state.

​11:24 a.m. Central

Flag song by the Iron Boy Singers. "The Iron Boy Singers are an eclectic group of young singers originating in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. The group was formed in 2009, in memory of the late Marlin Dickensen Sr., “Maza Wakpa Hoksila.” Marlin was a champion singer who touched many with his talented singing ability and his wise words. Unfortunately, his life was cut short at very young age. Many of his relatives and friends have chosen to carry on in this drum in his honor."


Readers can watch the ceremony live on *Indian Country Today’*s website. You can also keep up with the day’s events on our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with our on-the-ground reporter.

​Viewers can also use one of the 3 links below for Monday’s live feed:

  1. Live on MPR’s Facebook page
  2. Live on Governor-elect Walz’s Facebook page
  3. Live on Lt. Governor-elect Flanagan’s Facebook page

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb.

Comments (1)
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Nice work!