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On This Day in Our History: Funeral service held for Mel Isnana

Nov. 26, 2001

Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation members, as well as friends and associates from across the province and the Sioux nations, gathered at the school gymnasium Nov. 26, 2001 to say their last goodbyes to a father, a friend, and a chief.

Mel Isnana, the chief of the First Nation for two decades, died suddenly Nov. 20, four days after his 48th birthday and five days after he was re-elected.

Chief Isnana and his wife Stella were walking across the Regina Exhibition Park on their way to watch one of Mel's favorite pastimes, the Agribition rodeo, when he suddenly collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the nearby Pasqua Hospital.

Born on the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation on Nov. 17, 1953, Isnana got his education at Lipton School and at Bert Fox comprehensive high school, graduating in 1978. He later received a two-year diploma in administration from the University of Regina in 1993.

Isnana was first elected to band council in 1978, serving two terms before being elected chief in 1981. At the time of his election, Isnana was the youngest chief in the band's history and one of the youngest chiefs in Saskatchewan.

As chief, Isnana and several councils oversaw many improvements on Standing Buffalo, including the building of a school with gymnasium, health clinic, store, administration office, powwow arbor, street lighting, natural gas installation, the first Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation-built homes on the reserve, and the reserve’s fire department. As well, the band saw the construction of Lakeview Lodge, a 40-bed personal care home.

At various times, Isnana was appointed to the Touchwood Qu'Appelle Health District board, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College board of governors, the University of Saskatchewan board of governors, and was at various times also chairman of the board of the Fort Qu'Appelle Indian Hospital and the New Dawn Valley Centre.

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