Cover photo for Renee Kathy Van Nett's Obituary
1970 Renee 2022

Renee Kathy Van Nett

January 6, 1970 — June 3, 2022



Mashkiikii Makwa Ikwe - Renee K. VanNett was born January 6, 1970, in Big Fork, Mn to Victoria Yellow Earrings and James VanNett.  She spent a majority of her life in and around the Duluth area and settled into Duluth as a permanent home.


Throughout her whole life Renee had a strong connection and commitment to her cultural and spiritual ways which brought around the Country and Canada.  While attending school at the Fond Du Lac Ojibwe school she began her career and passion for powwow. The Powwow life opened the door for her to travel the country and Canada.  It also led her back to one of her home reserves in Red Lake Minnesota and the formation of the World Champion Eyabay Drum Group. Renee alongside Bubby traveled the world as renowned Zhaabowekweg (women that stand behind the drum and sing).  During her travels in the powwow scene Renee would always be encouraging others to dance and to have other girls and women come learn to sing.  Always empowering, inspiring, encouraging and correcting.  She will be remembered in the arena for her Old Style Jingle Dress Dancing with her tiny steps and appearing to glide along the ground as her jingles rustled for her people. Throughout her travels she really paid attention to her people and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs.  She always saw the need for change and was willing to put in the work to make that happen.  This led to her walking through the door and enter the political world within the city of Duluth.


Serving on many advisory boards and working in numerous service providing agencies she saw the need for representation and visibility.  That’s when she put her name on the ballot for the school board in Duluth in 2015.  Although she didn’t advance to that seat, she didn’t get discouraged…she looked at the bigger picture and shot for the moon by putting her name on the Duluth City Council ballot in 2017. She won that seat and began her role as a council member in January of 2018.  Throughout her term Renee fought fiercely for equality, justice, visibility, and cooperation. In 2020 Renee served as the Council Vice President followed by serving as the President in 2021. January 2022, she won a second term and was excited to serve the town she loves for another two years.

Once again Renee saw the need for more change, equality, and visibility. So, after hitting the moon she shot for the stars and put her name on the ballot for the Minnesota State Senate Seat for the 8th district.


Renee really loved her work as a public servant. She never let the stories of hard times be discouraging to her. She never allowed the differences between communities stop her from seeing the possibilities. She will be remembered for her determination, open mindedness, and willingness to cooperate for the betterment of all.  She lived in her Ojibwe and powwow world in the same manner as she did in her world of Duluth. Always listening, empowering, inspiring, demanding accountability and creating connections. THE TRUEST FOR OF OGICHIDAAKWE!!!!


Renee was never stingy with her love or knowledge.  Always teaching, sharing, and encouraging people to be part of the change to create goodness. All who knew her felt her presence. Felt her demand for better. She will be remembered for saying “I’m doing this because it’s my job. NOW DO YOUR F***ING  JOB!”


Renee’s legacy and memory will be carried on by:

Special Parents: Tom, Betty & Lucille.

Her Children: Tiarah, Nevada, Charmaine, Namiah, Jazz, Frankie Jr,, Ryan, Matthew, Opwaganse, D’ez


Sisters: Maria, Beverly (Roy), Bonnie, Heidi, Tami, Dawn, Chrissy, Susie, Kathy, Jackie, Michelle, Irene Green and Annie.

Brothers: Boy, Frankie, Dino, Michael, Lee, Garritte, Jerritte, Danny J, Wes, Dan H, Jeremy W.

Numerous Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.


Waiting for her to return home are:

Maternal and Paternal Grandparents: Randall VanNett, Maggie Roy, Benito Sr, Josephine, Parents: James VanNett, Victoria Yellow Earrings and Donald Goodwin. Brothers: Junior VanNett, Scruff, Biscuit, Harlan, Barney, Don K and JP. Sisters: Joanne and Kimberly.


Visitation will be 4:30PM, Sunday, June 5, 2022, visitation will continue until the 10AM Funeral Service Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at the Harbor Side Ballroom, located in the DECC, 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802.


Arrangements by Williams Lobermeier Boettcher Funeral Home, 218-624-1059, please visit to sign the online guestbook.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Renee Kathy Van Nett, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, June 5, 2022

Starts at 4:30 pm (Central time)

Harbor Side Ballroom DECC

350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Harbor Side Ballroom DECC

350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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