Cultural Ordinance


WHEREAS, the Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized Tribe, possessing inherent sovereign powers of Government; and

WHEREAS, those sovereign powers are exercised by a duly elected Board of Directors, deriving its governing powers from the Tribal Constitution and the Nation’s Council; and

WHEREAS, it is the right of a Tribe to celebrate and preserve its own cultural uniqueness; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Directors is desirous of establishing a Cultural Ordinance, setting forth the criteria, policy and procedures for sustaining the cultural uniqueness of the Wyandotte Nation.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Wyandotte Nation hereby adopts this Cultural Ordinance.


The foregoing resolution was duly adopted on June 10, 2009 in a regular session of the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors, at which a quorum was declared, by a vote of 6 for; 0 against; and 0 abstaining.

Section 1


Wyandotte Culture will be defined as all the ways of life pertaining to the identification and pattern of Wyandotte specific tribal activity, and the uniqueness that gives such activities significance and importance. Such unique patterns initially identified as being Wyandotte, follow the dispersal of 1649-1650 from our ancient ancestral homelands; which lie south of the Georgian Bay and east of Bruce Peninsula, along the Niagara Escarpment in the Canadian Province of Ontario. The dispersal was due to an ongoing war with the five nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

It is agreed that the Tionontati Nation (Tionnontaté, Petun, Tobacco) and a smaller number of refugees from the Wendat (Huron) Confederacy merged as one. In the early 1700’s, a distinct people with roots to the ancient Wendat culture emerged, thus the Wyandotte Nation. History records two (2) additional spellings of Wyandotte that are equally held in common and are hereby identified as Wyandot and Wyandott.

Our distinct culture includes the clan system, language, religion/beliefs, ceremonies/dances, oral traditions, manners, art, dress, gathering and preparation of food, shelter, government, law and history as defined in published historical documents and oral traditions still held in common by many Wyandotte People.

Wyandotte Culture will perpetually stay in a state of transition and renewal, while being passed down from generation to generation. It is desired that each sequential generation will retain knowledge of the past and guarded diligence on the behalf of future generations, to insure the preservation of all that is uniquely Wyandotte.



It is hereby enacted that for the purpose of identifying, preserving and restoring Wyandotte Culture for future generations, the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee be formed and empowered for that task.

(a) The Culture Committee shall consist of the Executive Committee, which will be no less than five (5) appointees, and two (2) alternates, all being Wyandotte Nation Tribal members; who shall be appointed by the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors. The Executive Committee will vote and elect their chairperson and co-chairperson, who will work with the Tribal Heritage Department director, to oversee all functions of said committee. Each appointee will serve a four (4) year term. Each of the five (5) appointees will have one (1) vote and need not be present to cast his/her vote, only as long as their vote can be done during a conference call with a quorum already in place. Alternates hold no voting privilege;

(b) To ensure that the committee membership is not appointed new each term, two (2) of the committees’ initial appointees will serve a two (2) year term; along with one (1) alternate. Afterwards, they upon reappointment or replacement will serve a full four-year term.

(c) At least three (3) members of the Executive Committee must be present at any meeting to hold a quorum;

(d) In addition the Culture Committee will consist of all interested parties willing to invest time, resources or ideas to the general preservation and restoration of Wyandotte Culture. They may attend all officially scheduled meetings and events, voicing ideas and opinions but they will hold no voting privileges, as only the five (5) Executive Committee appointees hold that responsibility;

(e) The Culture Committee shall meet quarterly on the first Saturday of each month (January, April, July and October) in the community room located in the Bearskin Fitness Center, or other designated area. The meeting may be cancelled only if there is no business for the committee to consider, or if an emergency arises that makes it impossible for the committee to meet. Cancelled meetings must be rescheduled within two weeks of the cancelled meeting;

(f) Special meetings of the Culture Committee can be called by the Tribal Heritage Department director or a majority vote of the Executive Committee, with no advance notice to the committee at large;

(g) Removal from the Executive Committee shall be by resignation of the committee member or removal by the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors at the recommendation of the Tribal Heritage Department director, due to dereliction of duty. Upon removal or resignation, the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors shall appoint a new Executive Committee appointee from one of the two alternates to fill the vacated position.



In order to actively and efficiently function as a member of the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee, Executive Committee appointee must know what limits, privileges and accessibilities entail. These will be defined as but not limited to;

(a) An Executive Committee appointee falls under the authority of the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director who will oversee and invest interest in cultural projects undertaken by said committee;

(b) Executive Committee appointees will not be constituted as being gainfully employed by the Wyandotte Nation, but is done so as a volunteer; unless a committee member is already employed by the Wyandotte Nation upon appointment or employed during their term of service on said committee;

(c) Therefore an Executive Committee appointee will not be financially compensated for his/her service on said committee;

(d) Volunteer services given by Executive Committee appointees will be recognized as an official non-paid extension of the Tribal Heritage Department; their volunteer service will entitle them to first and preferential opportunities when they become available to help in the investigation, collection, retention, distribution and preservation of all knowledge relevant to Wyandotte Culture;

(e) An Executive Committee appointee must be knowledgeable of Wyandotte Culture, and will be expected to make themselves available in order to be confided with in the event of decisions needing to be made of importance relevant to Wyandotte Culture as found necessary by the Tribal Heritage Department director;

(f) Daily affairs relevant to Wyandotte Culture will be overseen by the Tribal Heritage Department director and at his/her discretion a general briefing of department activities and accomplishments will be directed to the Executive Committee as to insure the well being of said committee, enhance knowledge and communication. This briefing is not intended to stifle or impede the daily activities of the Tribal Heritage Department director by requiring contact before action, but facilitate an atmosphere of open communication with Executive Committee appointments;

(g) An itemized list of historical documents and artifacts held in trust by the Wyandotte Nation will be provided to the Executive Committee appointments as to enhance their abilities to execute their responsibilities during their tenure on the committee. This will show available resources for research opportunities, projects for transcription, photographing and photocopying for electronic preservation;

(h) For research and presentation purposes the Executive Committee appointments will have access to historical documents, public domain documents and artifacts held in trust by the Wyandotte Nation. Access can be excluded from documents that may be determined sensitive to the ongoing affairs of tribal government, family services or economic development;

(i) Obtaining access to documents or artifacts does not automatically allow any appointee to physically remove them for research, transcription, or educational purposes from Wyandotte Nation Tribal Properties, but does guarantee that a copy of the document or photo of the artifact may be secured for their personal research and collection. In the rare event that a copy will not suffice or is impractical, a special request must be submitted detailing all pertinent reasons for the need of the original, and only then can written authorization from the Tribal Heritage Department director be considered and obtained under terms, before removal of the document or artifact is allowed;

(j) To fulfill responsibilities as set forth in Sections 4 and 5, an Executive Committee appointee may request within reasonable expectations, necessary copies of document(s) as identified on the list from article (g) as noted above in this section. Those document(s) will be copied and sent within a reasonable timeframe, in the event that said appointee cannot secure copies for themselves.



At the first meeting of each year the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director and the Executive Committee will establish a set of goals for the upcoming year. Those goals will be relevant only to the Culture Committee in making an annual plan as to the best possible use of committee resources. Those goals may include;

(a) The annual vision for the Culture Committee as set for by the Tribal Heritage Department director;

(b) A listing of cultural items held in suspension or transition, that have been identified as candidates for annual repatriation opportunities;

(c) A listing of historical documents to be electronically transcribed;

(d) A listing of artifacts to be electronically photographed;

(e) The amount of needed funds to be secured through grants or fundraising projects;

(f) A listing of research projects for providing cultural materials back to the Wyandotte People;

(g) Goals and agenda for the annual Culture Days;

(h) Field trips to former tribal lands in Michigan, Ohio, and Kansas for education purposes;

(i) Museums trips to identify Wyandotte Nation artifacts;

(j) Upcoming conferences, meeting, etc.



This Culture Ordinance recognizes that many Wyandotte Nation tribal members live at a great distance from Wyandotte, Oklahoma and this fact will not restrict them from being considered for the Executive Committee because of any distance. Active participation is required; knowledge of and a passionate heart for Wyandotte Culture with tangible contributions toward its preservation and restoration, and the giving back to the people will be recognized as the determining factor for Executive Committee appointments. Active participation will be expected to include;

(a) Attend no less than three (3) of the quarterly meetings in person or through conference call;

(b) Attend the Wyandotte Nation Annual Meeting every year or no less than every other year;

(c) Actively contribute research or writings towards the “Turtle Talk”, special printed papers or web documents presented to the general tribal membership when requested; and/or

(d) Actively participate with administrative/organizational, and/or host/teaching duties during Culture Days; and/or

(e) Actively participate with the Culture Committee booth during the Wyandotte Nation Pow Wow; and/or

(f) Actively participate with language research or special language projects in efforts to supply language based educational materials to the general tribal membership; and/or

(g) Actively participate in cultural repatriation and/or reburials; and/or

(h) Actively participate in the establishment and management of a Virtual Museum or Living History Museum for the housing of Wyandotte artifacts and information for general tribal membership and tribal guests; and/or

(i) Actively contribute towards grant writing for Wyandotte Culture projects; and/or

(j) Be available for advisory needs on Wyandotte Culture when asked by the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors, Tribal Heritage Department director, tribal members, educational institutions, research organizations and authors or other interested parties.



(a) Actively pursue the research and reinstatement of Wandat, the traditional Wyandotte language, so tribal members and non-tribal members alike can take pleasure in its use. Research will primarily use the work and collections of Charles Marius Barbeau. Through this ongoing process the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director and Executive Committee will recognize an official credentialed linguist(s) to oversee the cooperative effort of other linguists and interested parties to prepare a program towards language revitalization. The effort toward language revitalization must meet set standards and be approved by the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director and the Executive Committee;

(b) Working with the Wyandotte Nation Family Services Department the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director and the Executive Committee will explore clan reinstatement. The purpose, process and procedure of reinstatement will be determined during this process, and appropriate recommendations made. During the study all private information contained in the records of tribal members that may be necessary for family clan verification, will be held in the strictness of confidence and protected with all due diligence;

(c) Actively pursue the acquisition of grants or private donations for the establishment and operation of a Virtual Museum and/or Living History Museum for the Wyandotte Nation;

(d) Pursue the preservation of tribal elder memories through video or audio recordings;

(e) Participate in the location and identification of artifacts worthy of cultural repatriation from private or public holdings and/or museums through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Prioritize listing so that when funding is available the artifacts may be acquired for preservation within the Living History Museum;

(f) Publish no less than one (1) document per year either in printed form or through the official Wyandotte Nation website in the attempt to provide the general Wyandotte tribal membership with new or relevant historical information;

(g) Collect through an ongoing process all available original or copies of original documents, books, papers, magazine and newspaper articles, public records, doctorial thesis, etc. from private or public collections for archiving and preservation of any and all information pertinent to Wyandotte history;

(h) Organize and operate Culture Days, the official annual program in which Wyandotte Culture is studied.



This Culture Ordinance hereby establishes Culture Days to be held during the week of the Wyandotte Nation Annual Meeting and Pow Wow. Culture Days is established to introduce, educate and celebrate Wyandotte Culture with both tribal members and honored guests of the Wyandotte Nation. No less than two (2) days are to coincide with the Annual Meeting and Pow Wow to enhance an understanding of our language, history and the basics of tribal government. There too will be hands-on-demonstrations of arts, crafts, cultural items, traditional dance, food and other topics as deemed necessary for the fulfillment of this responsibility. The Executive Committee will oversee its organization and annual implementation.



When it becomes necessary to fill a part-time or full-time paid staff position within the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department, a Wyandotte Nation tribal member will be given preferential choice.



Any Executive Committee appointee, either a volunteer or paid employee of the Nation, may pursue independent personal projects relevant to Wyandotte Culture while officially serving on the Culture Committee; with no limitations or restrictions to publishing, printing, electronically posting, manufacturing, etc., works of their labor. This act will be looked upon no differently than as a professor publishing their works while in the employ of an institution of higher learning; there is an expectation to publish. As a result of their personal efforts there may be opportunities for compensation from the sale of published, printed materials or manufactured products. As long as resources were not directly obtained at the expense of the Wyandotte Nation toward these efforts, any independent, personal project will not be discouraged. All personal projects done at the sole expense of the individual, justly deserves potential rewards.



It is the desire to eliminate restrictions of use upon the Wyandotte Nation in regards to the use of our culture for both current and future generations. A primary example is with the Canadian Museum of Civilization that holds the rights to the work of Charles Marius Barbeau; i.e. specific written and recorded collections of the Wyandotte language. The use of these collections would require the Wyandotte Nation to enter a legal binding agreement to which a Culture Committee appointee cannot independently initiate without direction from the Tribal Heritage Department director.

This section is applicable to when the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage director initiates contracts on behalf of the Culture Committee in relation to third parties, and/or third parties requests assistance and/or permission to use cultural resources unique and exclusive to the Wyandotte Nation that carries significant cultural relevance. This section does not prohibit third parties from gainfully profiting from their labor, but disallows exclusionary access to said labor when it may be of benefit to the Wyandotte Nation to use in the preservation and/or presentation of our culture back to tribal members. This section does not apply to general research and the writing and publishing of stories, articles, etc., where existing and common knowledge of Wyandotte Culture is easily obtained.

(a) The Wyandotte Nation Tribal Heritage Department director will establish all contractual agreements when the needs arise to purchase services, products or produce legal binding contracts. He/she must also approve the hiring or contracting of individuals, organizations and agents working on the behalf of/or representing the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee. No attempt by an Executive Committee appointee may be made to independently establish external relationships or binding contractual agreements with third-party organizations or individuals on the behalf of the Wyandotte Nation, for the procurement of any necessary resources or cooperative adventures in relation to Wyandotte Culture. Examples of such activity would include, but not be inclusive of;

(i) The purchasing of a cultural artifact that would incur expenses beholding to the Wyandotte Nation;

(ii) Terms of use placed upon the Wyandotte Nation in relation to Wyandotte Cultural items held as tangible and intellectual property with private organizations and/or museums;

(iii) The securing of vendor services or products as needed for Culture Days, etc.

(b) When direct contractual relationships and/or working understandings are established with linguists in the attempt to reinstate Wandat; or authors in collective research and/or publication of written materials; or the acquisition of cultural items by an agent, etc., the work and efforts done by all third parties must be contractually defined and entered into with unrestricted rights of usage, and/or becomes the sole property of the Wyandotte Nation; inclusive to both artifacts and that which is considered intellectual property.



(a) Due to the sensitivity of Wyandotte Culture in the areas of clans, language, religion/beliefs, ceremonies/dances and oral traditions; the Wyandotte Nation must be cautious when approached by any individual or organization claiming newfound knowledge and facts as pertaining to these disciplines. The Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee must be diligent in proving or have the showing of proof as to uncover potential fraud, hidden motives or intent of personal gain/profit at the expense of the Wyandotte Nation;

(b) Everything that the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee provides back to the People of the Wyandotte Nation must be insured to be Wyandotte; and that all tribal members and their interests are protected through intense research and debate.



This Culture Ordinance will require appointees of the Executive Committee to adhere to the Wyandotte Nation’s Code of Ethics Act of February 19, 2004.


SECTION 2e was modified on July 13, 2013

(e) The Culture Committee shall meet quarterly on the second Saturday of each month (January, April, July and October) in the Administrative Conference Room, or other designated area. The meeting may be cancelled only if there is no business for the committee to consider, or if an emergency arises that makes it impossible for the committee to meet. Cancelled meetings must be rescheduled within two weeks of the cancelled meeting;

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