Carl Mckay

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


Our Son, Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Friend Carl Russell McKay Sr., "Good Rainbow" Wigmuke Waste Wicasa began his journey to the spirit world on February 21, 2018 surrounded by his family and loved ones at his home in New Rockford, ND.

Carl Russell was born on December 18, 1948 in Fort Totten, ND to William and Hermenia (Rainbow) McKay. Carl was raised and educated on the Spirit Lake reservation. In 1967 Carl graduated from Devils Lake Public High School in Devils Lake, ND. Carl attended the University of North Dakota and received his bachelor's degree in social work, and worked toward a master's degree in education from 1973-1974. He completed his Juris Doctorate in Law in 1984.

Carl was elected tribal chairperson in 1974, making him the youngest tribal chairperson in the United States to hold that office. He served continuously from 1974 to 1981, at which time the tribe instituted staggered terms. He resigned in 1982 to attend law school. He was elected tribal chairperson in 1985, served until 1987, and then reelected for two additional consecutive terms. Carl has served as the CEO for Sioux Manufacturing Corporation since May 1984.

Carl along with a team of other tribal members led the plans for the Tribe's first high school, K-12 tribal education. In 1972, at the age of 22, he became President of the Fort Totten School Board. At that time the Tribe didn't have a high school.

On March 13, 1980 Carl married Janice Cavanaugh at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ft. Totten, ND. They made their home in St. Michael, ND and due to flooding, they moved to New Rockford in 1997.

Carl was very generous, compassionate and humble. Carl was well known for his unique sense of humor. He dedicated his life to his family and the people of the Spirit Lake Oyate. His dream was self-sufficiency of the people.

Carl is survived by his Mother, Hermenia, Sons, Frank Jason Greene, Carl McKay Jr. (Mandi), Daughters, Ann McKay, Lori McKay, Marnie (Joseph) Lawrence, Jennifer (Wayne) Black and Dixie (Mitch) Omen, 33 Grandchildren, 10 Great-Grandchildren, Sister, Ila McKay, Brother, Merle McKay (Delphine), Special Niece, Lacey McKay, Special Nephew, Dakota McKay, God-Children, Larissa McKay, Gandi Shaw and Marshall "Pete" Longie, Sr. and several nieces and nephews.

Carl was preceded in death by his Wife, Janice, Father, William McKay, Brother, Virgil McKay Sr., Nephew, Virgil McKay Jr., Granddaughter, Dancia Dawn Jackson.

A special thanks to the Spirit Lake Ambulance, Altru Hospital, St. Aloisius Hospital, Spirit Lake Tribe, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Dr. Potti and to the many friends and family member's kindness during this difficult time. If we forgot to mention anyone please know that it was not intentional.

Active Pallbearers: Jerry Jensen, Scott Chase Sr., Whalen "Bud" Shaw, Elvis Thumb Sr., Larry Holtzman, Richard Johnson, Sam Merrick Sr., Roger Johnson, Gandi Shaw

Honorary Pallbearers: Jesse Allery, Demus McDonald, Duane Jackson Sr., Tom (Debbie) Jetty, Steve Jetty, Karen Greyeyes, Ady Omen, William "Bill" Black, Tony Hunt, Cheryl GoodIron, Vern (Velma) Lambert, Skip (Darlys) Longie, Butch (Martina) Kazena, Tony and Vina McDonald, Frenchie Brown, Carol Black, Denver (Tamara) Littlewind, Audrey Belgarde, Joanne Belgarde, Arlene Demarce, Imogene Belgarde, Bob (Euretta) McKay, John (Alma) GoodIron, Dallas Dogskin, John and Mona Chaske, Dallas (Renita) Delorme, Hyllis (Nancy) Dauphinais, Ermen and Lori Brown, Cassandra Cloud, Jeannie Cavanaugh, Dave Steffen, Larry and Laverne Sullivan, Chuck and Mary Trottier, past and present co-workers at Sioux Manufacturing Corporation.