Grand Portage Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe Passes Away

Ryan Juntti
Updated: February 11, 2019 06:17 PM

An official from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has confirmed to WDIO News that chairman Norman Deschampe passed away on Saturday evening. 

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One of Deschampe's family members says he was 65, and died of a heart attack. 

Deschampe was first elected to the tribal council when he was 23, serving for 45 years, including 27 of those as chairman.

"He was a steady influence for many, many years. He fought for our treaty rights," said Michele Hakala-Beeksma who works for the 1854 Treaty Authority. "He had a strong commitment to higher education for our people, and for taking care of the elderly," she said.  

Hakala-Beeksma described Deschampe as a "very humble man who really embodied traditional Ojibwe values."

"He had a lot of respect for other people, whether they were the VIP's of the world, or the struggling of the world, he talked to everybody the same," said Hakala-Beeksma.

Deschampe also served on the executive committee of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

This story was first reported by WTIP Radio.

Deschampe served on the current Tribal Council with Vice-chair Marie Spry, Secretary/Treasurer April McCormick, and Council Members John Morrin and William “Bill” Meyers.

"Norman Deschampe was a great leader for Grand Portage and Greater Grand Portage enrollees. His personal approach with all the band members was impeccable. His openness to help wasn’t contrived it was honest... We have the smallest reservation in Minnesota and he will be missed by all who knew him on and off reservation," a tribal member sent in a statement to WDIO News.

Hakala-Beeksma says she believes Vice-Chair Janice (Marie) Spry will take over for Deschampe in the meantime.

A celebration of Deschampe's life will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday at the Grand Portage Community Center.


Ryan Juntti

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