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Native American Drug and Gang Initiative fighting crime on Wisc reservations
Tuesday, August 25 2009
 
Written by Associated Press,
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The two law officers meeting over breakfast at the Lake of the Torches Casino in Lac du Flambeau, Wisc. had not gone there looking for trouble. But they found it when they walked out into the sunshine and saw two teenagers flashing bills in the parking lot.  Quickly, they patted down the teens, then searched their casino hotel room. They netted a pocketful of marijuana, four bottles of vodka and a 17-year-old girl who had told her parents she was visiting a friend in Minnesota.

A small-time bust by any standard, but this one in April 2009 represented something larger. The lawmen were Lac du Flambeau tribal Police Capt. Bob Brandenburg and Wisconsin Justice Department Special Agent Tom Sturdivant, and the sight of a state agent working side-by-side with a tribal officer to fight reservation crime symbolized a new kind of teamwork. 

The effort to open communication and cooperation between tribal and state law enforcement agencies has gotten attention far from Wisconsin. While some have raised questions about the potential impact on tribal sovereignty, others point to the effectiveness of the new approach.

 

Wild cougars may be returning to Lake Superior area
Monday, August 17 2009
 
Written by Mark St. Germaine,
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Active Image The yellow cougar loped and veered through the pine forest as chasing dogs howled and stayed close behind. Once the dogs got closer, the big cat leaped up onto a large oak tree and quickly climbed his way to the top far branches. There it perched itself and watched the commotion below. Soon the coyote hunters caught up to the dogs and stood far below in stunned silence. They stared in disbelief at the large mountain lion above them. This was northern Wisconsin, and mountain lions belonged in the Rocky Mountains.

The Wisconsin DNR was contacted by one of the hunters on March 3 and with the assistance of other dog hunters, a team of DNR biologists again treed the cougar on March 4. Hoping to tranquilize the cougar, wardens shot it with darts, but the chemicals were too weak to affect it. The cougar jumped the tree and the dogs, handlers, and the DNR agents chased the animal some distance before giving up, worrying that they might exhaust the big cat too much.

DNR wildlife specialist Ken Jonas said that the Department was interested in determining where this rare animal was going, what it was eating, where it was from, how long it’s been here, and why it was here.
“From a paw blood sample we collected…during the chase through the woods we figured out that it was a young male cougar from the Black Hills,” Jonas said. Had they been able to dart the cougar with an immobilizing agent they would have put a tracking collar on it. By following the animal, biologists would know if it stayed in Wisconsin or moved into an adjacent state.

The cougar is the largest wildcat in North America and adult male cougars weigh from 115 to 160 pounds. Adult females range from 75 to 110 pounds. Cougars are also known as puma, mountain lion, panther, American lion, and mishibijn (Ojibwa), and once roamed throughout Wisconsin. It was one of three wild cats native to the state, along with the bobcat and the Canada lynx.

The cougar disappeared from Wisconsin around 1910, but reports began to surface in the 1940s of possible cougars in the state. Since then naturalists and wildlife biologists have begun collecting reports of sightings. And since 1991, the Wis. DNR has conducted a standardized system of collecting reports of cougars.  

Benny Rogers, a long time resident of the St. Croix Reservation, said that long ago cougars were occasionally spotted deep in the woods near their settlements. “Yeah, they were around here when I was young” said Rogers. “Over at Pine Lake (Indian settlement), there was a cougar over there,” he said, “you could hear him at night. The whole village was scared.”  “It’s important it’s [the cougars] coming back,” he added, “there’s a reason for it, a story about it, that involves little spirit boys. My grandson seen them and the cougar. We’re supposed to listen to it.” Then he added, “The old timers would be happy.”

The first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in the state was last January when one was spotted near Milton, Wisconsin. That animal was later killed in a suburb outside of Chicago. The current location of the large cat is unknown and it is Wisconsin’s second verified cougar sighting in 14 months.

Anyone sighting a cougar should report it to their nearest DNR office. Jonas advises to observe it at a distance and try of get a photo of it. If it leaves foot prints in the mud or sand, Jonas said to cover the track with a can or box to maintain its shape and prevent weathering.Mountain lions are listed as “protected wild animals” in Wisconsin and can not be killed without a permit from the DNR.

Opponents gear up to fight Alberta Clipper pipeline
Friday, July 24 2009
 
Written by Associated Press,
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Indian activists are gearing up to fight a planned oil pipeline that would cross the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.

The 6-inch diameter pipeline, to be built by Enbridge Energy, would run almost 1,000 miles from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis. Dubbed the Alberta Clipper, the pipeline would cut diagonally across northern Minnesota. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved the route for the pipeline project.
The Leech Lake Tribal Council has agreed to allow it to cross their reservation, in exchange for a $10 million payment from Enbridge Energy.

Proposed White Earth constitution revives enrollment controversy
Friday, July 24 2009
 
Written by Jeff Armstrong,
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Critics of a proposed constitution for the White Earth Band of Ojibwe say it threatens to do to tribal government what allotment did to the reservation’s land base, which was for the most part swallowed up by non-Native individuals and governments early in the 20th century. They also warn that the move by White Earth, the largest of the six Minnesota Chippewa Tribes, poses a direct threat to the political existence of the tribe and potentially jeopardizes White Earth’s federal recognition.

One of the principal objections to the draft constitution is that it institutionalizes a process that began in 1996 of allowing descendants of tribal members to partake in some benefits of tribal membership.

The issuance of “green cards” allowing tribal descendants who do not meet the blood quantum requirements of the constitution to exercise hard-won tribal treaty rights was controversial in its own right. When the state and its courts refused to recognize the green cards, however, many thought the issue was resolved.

LCO archeological dig creates youth interestLCO archeological dig creates youth interest
Friday, July 24 2009
 
Written by Mark St. Germaine,
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Recent Ojibwe high school graduates carried shovels full of dirt from huge piles of excavated soil and poured them into screened boxes, then sifted the dirt onto the ground, revealing tiny objects left on top the screen.

The young workers became excited as they gathered together and examined the little pieces of rusted metal, glass, rock, or bone fragment. They brought the peices over to their foreman, Bob Sander, if they looked to be of particular interest. Sander checked them over with great detail and placed them in a plastic baggie.

One object was an etched deer knuckle bone that had been used in earlier centuries as a game of skill. The Ojibwe once referred to this game as Pepengunegun, a cup and needle game that required players to skillfully thread a bone needle through the thimble-like knuckle bone.

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