Tribes and state use unique court to fight addiction
Monday, September 17 2012
Written by By Tom Robertson Minnesota Public Radio News,
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tribes_and_state_use_unique_court_to_fight_addiction.jpgFred Isham sits near a blazing fire just outside Cass Lake on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. The 37-year-old tribal member helped build the fire to heat carefully selected stones that will be used in a nearby sweat lodge. Inside the sweat lodge, Isham and others will pray and conduct spiritual Ojibwe ceremonies.
Isham participates in the Cass County-Leech Lake tribal "wellness court." He's encouraged to use ceremonies and other cultural activities as part of his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. It's not required, but evidence suggests cultural and spiritual connections can help the healing process.
"In a sense what you're doing is you're going back into the womb of the mother," Isham said of the sweat lodge. "When you come back out there it's a rebirth. You're clean again."
Isham, a member of the Boise Forte Band of Ojibwe who grew up in Cass Lake, was a chronic drinker and pot smoker. Last summer he was cited a second time for driving while intoxicated, and later violated probation. In December, court authorities offered him the opportunity to participate in wellness court as an alternative to a year in prison, and he took it.
The court is a unique partnership among the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Cass and Itasca counties in northern Minnesota. It uses intense supervision and, in some cases, tribal culture, to target chronic substance abusers and cut the cost of crime, and is among a variety of new strategies and approaches to public safety the local officials are trying.
Wellness court is similar to the DWI and drug courts that have become popular across the country. It's a voluntary prison diversion program that provides structured supervision and rehabilitation for non-violent, repeat drug and alcohol offenders. The average length of the program is 18 months for gross misdemeanor offenders and 24 months for felony offenders.
For participants, it's strict. Isham must attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He answers to a probation officer and must attend wellness court meetings every other week. The court sessions are convened jointly by both tribal and county judges, who get updates on his progress.
Media Statement from Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Chairman Gordon Thayer
Monday, September 17 2012
Written by The Circle Staff,
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HAYWARD, WI- Recently, several media stories gave the impression that Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) was going bankrupt. This is misleading and far from the real story. The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe has launched a financial efficiency initiative that will result in expense reductions and revenue enhancement promotions to improve the financial position of the tribe. When the tribe is financially efficient the LCO Tribal Government is able to best serve the needs of LCO members. That is our top priority.
Just as many businesses and municipal governments across the country have been affected by the lingering economic downturn in the United States, the LCO tribe has been similarly impacted. And, unfortunately, like the U.S. Congress, past tribal governments have sometimes spent more money than they have taken in. Unlike the United States Congress, this LCO Tribal Governing Board is being proactive by taking action to correct the problem and to balance our budget so we can best serve the needs of our members.
Continuing on a path of spending more money than what is taken in is unwise for the U.S. Congress, any business, households and tribal governments. Long periods of overspending is a sure path to bankruptcy for any government.
Four Day Run in Celebration of Sobriety & Health
Monday, September 17 2012
Written by Photos and Story by Michael Meuers,
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red_lake_band_four_day_run_for_sobriety.jpgThe annual four day Anishinaabe Run for Sobriety and Health began at the Red Lake Chemical Health Programs at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 1, and finished at the  Mash-ka-wisen pow-wow grounds at Fon du Lac on Saturday, August 4, a 200 mile relay run.   On the first day, more than a dozen runners, including several youth began their run down Highway 89.  It was a warm August Day with the temperature approaching the low 80's.  The runners were accompanied by a near equal number of support staff, who would use five or six vans and cars to shuttle runners, provide water, and any other service the runners might need.  Each team or individual runner would run 3/10 of a mile, then be shuttled ahead of the four or five other teams, allowing time to rest while awaiting their turn to run again.
MHS returns archaeological artifacts to Bois Forte Band
Friday, August 24 2012
Written by The Circle Staff,
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More than 7,000 archaeological materials as old as 800 to 3000 years were returned to the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in July by the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).
The collection includes stone tools, arrowheads, fragments of ceramic vessels and copper artifacts. The materials were excavated in 1948 from Bois Forte Band tribal land on Nett Lake in Koochiching County without permission from the Band. The artifacts were obtained and held by the University of Minnesota until 1999, when they were turned over to MHS.
Responding to a request from the Bois Forte Tribal Council, MHS has returned the artifacts, some of which may eventually be displayed at the Bois Forte Heritage Museum at Fortune Bay Resort on Lake Vermillion. The museum has the specialized facilities and professional staff to care for the collection.
"The Bois Forte people are the best stewards of our history and the best tellers of our story. The objects are home where they belong, where we can learn from them and use them to educate people about Bois Forte," said Kevin Leecy, Chairman of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.
Court Rules Flambeau 'Model Mine' Violated Clean Water Act
Friday, August 24 2012
Written by The Circle Staff,
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A federal court ruled in July that Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) violated the Clean Water Act on numerous occasions by allowing pollution from its Flambeau Mine site, near Ladysmith, Wis., to enter the Flambeau River and a nearby tributary known as Stream C.
The lawsuit was filed last year by the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC), the Center for Biological Diversity, and Laura Gauger. The complaint charged that Flambeau Mining Company (a subsidiary of Kennecott Minerals Company / Rio Tinto) was violating the Clean Water Act by discharging stormwater runoff containing pollutants, including toxic metals, from a detention basin known as a biofilter.  
The Flambeau Mine near Ladysmith, Wisc. has a long history of controversy due, in part, to the proximity of the mine to the Flambeau River. A federal court ruled that the mine, which ceased operations in 1997 and has since been reclaimed, violated the federal Clean Water Act on numerous occasions over the past 6 years.
The Flambeau is a popular river for fishing and canoeing and provides habitat for a wide variety of aquatic and wildlife species, including bald eagles and osprey. The Flambeau Mine operated near the river from 1993 to 1997. Since the close of mining operations, Flambeau Mining Company has faced persistent groundwater and surface water quality problems at the site, most notably at a 32-acre industrial park that remains operational.
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