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White Earth tribal chair Tibbetts dies after lengthy illness

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Terry Tibbetts, White Earth Nation Chairman
Terry Tibbetts, 60, served the White Earth Nation for 35 years, working his way up to a successful run for tribal chair in 2016.
Ann Arbor Miller for MPR News

Terry Tibbetts served White Earth Nation for 35 years, starting on a public works crew and working his way up to a successful run for tribal chair in 2016. He died Sunday morning. He was 60.

His time in office was turbulent. He took the seat in a controversial special election after longtime chair Erma Vizenor was forced to resign. 

He openly feuded with other elected officials, one of whom accused Tibbetts of stealing thousands from the northern Minnesota tribe. He was later exonerated.

According to a statement from the tribe, Tibbetts died at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, N.D., after an undescribed lengthy illness.

Vice chair Eugene Tibbetts, a distant relative of Terry Tibbetts, will run the tribe for now.