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Minnesota tribes press concerns over pipeline plan, wild rice
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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mn_tribes_press_concerns_over_pipeline_plan_wild_rice-web.jpgSeveral Minnesota Indian bands are upset about what they say is a lack of consultation over a proposed controversial oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

This week, the Mille Lacs and White Earth Ojibwe bands are holding their own public hearings on plans for the Sandpiper line, a $2.6 billion pipeline that would pump North Dakota crude 300 miles across Minnesota to its terminal in Superior, Wis., and eventually to refineries around the Great Lakes.

The tribal hearings are happening as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission readies a major ruling on the project's need.

While the route preferred by Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Energy does not cross any Indian reservations, it does cross a large area of lakes and forests in northern Minnesota where treaties give tribes the right to hunt, fish and gather.

Tribal members say they are especially concerned about potential impacts on their right to gather wild rice. A three-hour meeting Enbridge hosted last week on the Fond du Lac Reservation was sometimes tense and emotional.

"If the wild rice dies, we die," said Michael Dahl, who drove four hours from the White Earth reservation to attend the meeting. "Shame on you," he shouted to Enbridge representatives.

Tanya Aubid, a Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe member who lives near the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge near McGregor, Minn., broke down in tears as she talked about how a pipeline spill near Rice Lake would be devastating.

Ojibwe migration stories tell of how the people were told to keep moving until they came to a place where food grew on the water.

"Wild Rice is very much an integral part of our lives," she said. "It's there for us for our ceremonies, for basic daily living, and something we've had here for thousands and thousands of years."

Linda Coady, Enbridge's director of sustainability, told tribal members she'd relay their concerns to the company's senior leadership. While she didn't make any promises, Coady said she hopes Enbridge and tribes can forge a less adversarial relationship.

"There are very strong feelings; there are obviously a lot of concerns about the potential impact of a spill in relation to wild rice," she said.

"On some of the issues, we have shared values, common goals," she added. "No one wants to threaten the wild rice in Minnesota."

Enbridge has hired a tribal relations consultant. But several bands say neither Enbridge nor the state have done enough to consult with tribes.


41 indicted in drug trafficking ring on 2 Indian reservations
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by Laura Yuen and Jon Collins, MPR News ,
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41_indicted_in_drug_trafficking_ring_on_2_indian_reservations-web.jpg A federal grand jury has indicted 41 people in connection with a drug trafficking ring focused on two Indian reservations in Minnesota.

Authorities say the ring distributed drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone and others in and around the Red Lake and White Earth Indian reservations starting in April 2014. Drugs were obtained in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Heroin and prescription drugs have blazed a horrific path on the reservation, said Randy Goodwin, White Earth director of public safety. He said even newborn babies have been exposed to heroin because of their mothers' addictions.
"Many lives, families, and communities have been damaged or destroyed from this poison," Goodwin said. "Lives have been lost from overdose. Families have been destroyed. Our elders have been victims of threats, abuse, and theft."

Prosecutors describe Omar Sharif Beasley, 37, as the ringleader of the operation, alleging that he "recruited sources, supervisors, managers, distributors, facilitators, couriers, drivers." A former federal fugitive, Beasley has a history of drug convictions. For the past month, he has been held at the Anoka County jail on an unrelated charge of violating his probation.

Others charged include residents of North Dakota, Chicago, Milwaukee and the White Earth and Red Lake reservations.

Each suspect has been charged with conspiracy to distribute the drugs. Other charges for some of the suspects include drug possession with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a firearm and distribution of heroin, methamphetamine and prescription painkillers.

The indictment was filed last week but unsealed on May 27.

 


Mushkooub Aubid: Passing of a Great Leader
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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"They just can't go to a hospital and take a body from the ER and put it back into the station wagon and drive away," Aitken County Deputy Coroner Chuck Brenny said… "Pretty soon, everybody will be doing it."

– Manominike Giizis, August 1990, discussing the repatriation of Egiwaateshkang (George Aubid) by his son Mushkooub, who took his father’s body from the coroner’s office in a station wagon home, to send him on his path to the spirit world.

Some things change, but many stay the same. February's passing of Mushkooub Aubid, son of George Aubid followed the same story line. Mushkooub Aubid, 65, was involved in a serious car accident on Feb. 7 and was pronounced dead at Cloquet Memorial Hospital. His body was taken to the medical school at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where an autopsy was set for Feb. 10, long after the traditional practice would allow. “We just want to prepare his body for his journey to the next world,” Winnie LaPrairie, his widow, said. “This is the way it’s been done for thousands of years.”

It took, a lot of pressure and 25 tribal members to bring their chief home. Band administrators and attorneys said a forced autopsy would violate the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. “We’re trying to do this peacefully and according to the law,” Dan LaPrairie, Aubid’s son said. “But our beliefs supercede those laws. Our father gave us explicit instructions for what to do when he passed, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Officiated by Dr. Anton Treuer, the well-attended funeral and wake included representatives from most of the Anishinaabeg communities in the region and the traditional Midewin Societies. The funeral was held in East Lake or Minisinaakwaang, home of the Rice Lake Band of Mississippi Anishinaabe or Manoominikeshiins-ininiwag.

Mushkooub’s life, like that of his father, Egiwaateshkang, and the name Mushkooub received – He that is Firmly Affixed – was marked with defense of the land and way of life of the Anishinaabeg, at the center of which was the political autonomy of Minisinaaakwaang, as well as mino bimaatisiiwin. The life given by the Creator.

His memorial remembered that courage and tenacity, Mushkooub refused to go to the Vietnam war because “ that was not his war.” As well, the treaties of 1837 and 1855 would recognize that the Ojibwe are a nation, which signed peace and friendship treaties, with the United States. Mushkooub joined with many other Native people to take over of the BIA building in Washington, D.C. in 1972, the liberation of Wounded Knee in 1973 and joined his father in protesting dumping of military and toxic wastes on the shores of Gichi Gummi (Lake Superior).

His accolades are long and numerous, worthy of a bard’s words from the old times: a former Mille Lacs Band Education Director, championship ricer – bringing in 650 pounds of rice in one day – and defender of land and water and way of life.

 


Red Lake Tribal Council to research feasibility of marijuana
Friday, February 06 2015
 
Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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red_lake_tribal_council_to_reseach_feasibility_of_marijuana.jpgRED LAKE, Minn. – Although the subject was not on the printed agenda for the Red Lake Tribal Council at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Jan. 13, recent acts by the federal government concerning Indian tribes, hemp and marijuana prompted several tribes to explore the feasibility of growing medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., added the agenda item shortly after the call to order. He said he felt the federal ruling should at least be discussed. Seki cited several tribes that are looking deeper into the issue and mentioned fewer yet that were actually taking action.

Immediately, Red Lake citizen and Gardening Tech at Red Lake Traditional Foods David Manuel asked to address those assembled and spoke of the economic advantages to getting involved with at least industrial hemp and possibly medical marijuana. “Give me one of those three green houses near the elementary school for a year and I'll give you five million dollars," Manuel said. He offered no plan nor statistics for that claim.

Nearly everyone on the 11-member tribal council weighed in, including several chiefs and Red Lake members seated in the audience. Discussion ran the gamut from favorable to cautionary for both industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana.

Council member Roman Stately said toward the end of the discussion, that he "knew very little about either hemp or marijuana. We need a feasibility study. Lets learn about it.” Several council members and citizens agreed that they just were unfamiliar with the issue and that the tribe should explore the matter from a legal, economic and other issues surrounding the federal memo.

It was then moved and seconded, then passed unanimously to direct Red Lake Economic Development and Legal Departments to conduct a feasibility study and fact-finding mission on the issue and report back to council at an unspecified time.

Seki emphasized that whatever the outcome, no resolutions or tribal laws will be enacted without consultation with the membership both in informational meetings and eventually in a referendum … a vote of the entire nation. “Whatever we do, it will be done very carefully,” he said.

Seki, who holds informational and brainstorming sessions in each of the four Red Lake communities from time to time, said that for the next series of community meetings will be conducted over a two week period in February, that he will add the issue to the agenda and encouraged all Red Lake members to participate in that and all issues of concern to the tribe.


Red Lake Chairman and Treasurer travel to DC
Friday, February 06 2015
 
Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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red lake washington dc-web.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., and Treasurer Annette Johson, along with others met with members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation on Jan. 28 in Washington, D.C. to discuss a number of issues of concern to the Red Lake Band.

According to a tribal spokesperson, Seki and Johnson met with Minnesota's Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Moorhead, and Rick Nolan, D-Duluth.

Red Lake's lack of criminal jurisdiction over non-band members was the primary focus of the visits with the Congressional delegates. Tribal officials said they would like to have jurisdiction to prosecute non-members who bring drugs onto the Red Lake Reservation.

“All Congressmen were shocked to hear of our troubles with drug dealers and were very responsive to the Band's issues that were raised,” tribal spokespersons said. "Sen. Amy Klobuchar even suggested that a tribal summit – to include all of Minnesota's eleven tribes – would be in order, to discuss this and other topics of mutual concern to Indian Nations."

Seki and Johnson also met with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn (Chickasaw) about the BIA's push to move funding from "one time funding" to a grant-based approach, a move that the Red Lake Band strongly opposes.

Other issues addressed by the Red Lake delegation included Red Lake's concern regarding insufficient funding for tribal roads, specifically the calculation formulas used by the federal government which allow tribes with smaller land bases to receive equal or even more funding. The Enbridge Pipeline was also discussed.

 

PHOTO: Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. and Treasurer Annette Johnson visit with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (Photo by Michael Meuers)


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