WHITE EARTH, Minn. (AP) — A White Earth Nation activist described as a “champion of the people” has died at age 72.

The tribe says Marvin Manypenny, remembered as an American Indian land rights and sovereignty activist, died Sunday in White Earth.

Fellow activist Raymond Bellcourt describes Manypenny as a scholar of the tribe’s constitution and treaties who had won the respect throughout the six bands of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

“He always had the people’s interest at heart,” Bellcourt said. “It was never about money, it was never about personal gain, it was always about the protection of the people who had no voice, who had no way to protect themselves.”

Manypenny and other activists in the early 1980s formed the group Anishinabe Akeeng, which translates to “the people’s land” to push for the return of hundreds of thousands of acres that been unfairly taken from the tribe since the late 1800s, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Manypenny is the father of Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

Flanagan said her father was a strong and consistent presence in advocating for Native sovereignty and self-determination.

“My dad oftentimes would say, ‘My girl, I want to burn down the system, and you want to get into the system and change it from the inside out,’” Flanagan said.

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