Bemidji City Council shies away from tribal flag installation in chambers

The Bemidji City Council did not reach a consensus on installing tribal flags in council chambers.

Council members Audrey Thayer and Dan Jourdain, members of the White Earth and Red Lake Nations respectively, posed the question to include these symbols, of these tribes and of Leech Lake, in chambers as a sign of respect.

Thayer pointed to the history of the lands on which Bemidji sits, and the installation of the flags would acknowledge the ancestral treaty territories.

Mayor Jorge Prince expressed concern about all groups wishing to display flags at council chambers, but also that real change needs more than symbols.

Council member Nancy Erickson said never in Bemidji’s history have there been two Indigenous members seated, which she remarked was a step forward, but that the flags that fly in chambers represent the oaths they all have taken.

City Manager Nate Mathews offered to do more research into the matter, and the flag installation item may return to a regular council agenda for a formal vote.

The council also expressed interest in a redesign of the City of Bemidji flag.

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