Regional and Local Briefs: August 2014
Thursday, August 07 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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By Luke Taylor, Minnesota Public Radio

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Lyz Jaakola, one of Classical MPR's 2013-2014 Class Notes Artists, won a Sally Award for Education at the 22nd annual event at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn.

She received the award in honor of her work in raising awareness and appreciation of Native music and culture throughout Minnesota.

The Sally Awards are described on the Ordway's Web site as follows: “Since 1992, the Sally Awards have honored individuals and institutions that strengthen and enrich our entire state with their commitment to the arts and arts education. The awardees' talents and determination help make Minnesota's quality of life excellent and its culture unique and rich.”

The Sally Award is based on the "First Trust Award" presented in 1986 to Sally Ordway Irvine, whose initiative, vision and commitment inspired the creation of Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Each winner receives a cash prize.

As one of Classical MPR's Class Notes Artists, Jaakola visited a number of schools throughout the state, teaching children about Ojibwe/Anishinaabe music and culture through live performance.


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Four additional Minnesota counties have agreed to provide satellite election offices on Indian reservations in Minnesota, according to Bret Healy, consultant with Four Directions voting rights group.

Cass and Itaska counties will provide absentee voting and late registration for Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, while White Earth Nation will be served by Becker and Mahnomin counties.

Officials in Cass County are looking forward to implementing their new office for Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, according to Auditor/Treasurer Sharon K. Anderson, who runs elections for the county. “As I sought input from key people prior to making this decision, I received nothing but positive feedback,” Anderson said.

Healy lauded the county election officials for their enthusiasm and cooperation and the Minnesota secretary of state for supporting the effort and helping with technological assistance where necessary.


DULUTH, Minn. – The City of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band went back to court on July 28 to argue their case over the Carter Hotel.

City Attorney Gunnar Johnson says Duluth filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the band from putting the Carter Hotel into trust, because that would mean it would no longer be on Duluth tax rolls.

The city told the court when the Fond du Lac Band and the City came to a legal agreement in 1986 that allowed the band to open the Fond Du Luth casino, a clause said no new property would be put into trust without city consent. Johnson says the city did not give consent for this move.

Fond du Lac Tribal Chair Karen Diver has said the band wants to expand the Fond du Luth Casino into the Carter Hotel which the tribe bought in 2010.

The Band filed motions to dismiss the complaint and to dismiss the city's non-abrogation claim, which was the promise of the parties to not undermine their agreement using political means. The city alleges the band broke its contract when it asked the National Indian Gaming Commission to reverse its prior approval of the casino contracts.

Duluth filed a federal lawsuit against the Fond du Lac band for its efforts to expand Indian trust land in Duluth.


ST. PAUL, Minn. – The federal government added 24 Minnesota counties and two tribal governments to the president's disaster declaration on Aug. 1.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa and Prairie Island Indian Community are now eligible for federal assistance to address recent flooding.

Altogether, 32 counties and two tribal governments have been included in the declaration and approved for federal assistance. In late July, a major disaster declaration was announced for Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville and Rock Counties.

Six flood-affected counties are still under review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including Dakota, Hennepin, Lyon, Ramsey, Watonwan and Wright counties.

Under a presidential disaster declaration, FEMA will fund 75 percent of approved costs. The state of Minnesota will fund the non-federal share. Eligible work can include debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster and repair or replacement of damaged public facilities such as roads, bridges and recreation areas.

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation also announced it will give $5 million to repair Minnesota roads damaged by June's widespread flooding.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids announced July 29 that it has awarded six grants totaling $123,190 that assist rural Minnesota communities in advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their communities, including a grant to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

LLBO will begin deployment of a wireless network across the reservation to provide quality broadband to tribal members, with support of a $50,000 Blandin Foundation grant.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Blandin Foundation previously were successful with a Feasibility Study that supports the broadband community project. The Blandin Grant of $50,000 is the first leveraged funds that will kick start the Leech Lake Band’s project to provide broadband services (Internet in the home) first to the communities of Cass Lake and Bena utilizing towers owned by the Band.

“Broadband will produce increased access to health and education, spur growth in rural economies, including ultimately alleviating the hardship of long distance fees for what should be local dialing in tribal lands,” Sally Fineday, Leech Lake Telecommunications Company business manager said. “This innovative partnership with Blandin Foundation means success for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe with its broadband network within its tribal lands.”

As part of a five-year build-out plan, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will utilize their five existing towers plus three casino towers and build eight additional towers to provide wireless broadband service throughout its tribal lands including communities like Ball Club, Inger, S Lake, Cut Foot, West Winnie, Prescott, Oak Point, Sugar Point, Federal Dam, Kego Lake, Mission, Cass River and Onigum, where broadband services were not previously available. The towers also will boost mobile service coverage along major highways throughout the tribal lands.

“Rural leaders know that connected communities are vibrant communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation. “We are delighted to see Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe pull resources together to plan for access to and use of high-speed Internet so critical to work and life today.”

Since making rural broadband use and access a focus in 2003, Blandin Foundation has partnered with leaders in more than 69 communities and 106 organizations across the state to support sustainable broadband adoption to enhance quality of life and place.


WELCH, Minn. – A New Germany, Minn., woman was arrested on July 27 at Treasure Island Resort and Casino with approximately 47 grams of methamphetamine in her purse, according to a complaint filed in Goodhue County District Court July 28.

Amy Mae Seefeldt, 27, is charged with felony first-degree drug sale of 10 grams or more of methamphetamine and felony first-degree possession of 25 grams or more of methamphetamine, which both carry a maximum sentence of no less than four years and no more than 40 years’ jail time and a $1 million fine.

Prairie Island tribal police received information that Seefeldt, who had a felony warrant out for her arrest, was at Treasure Island Casino, according to the complaint.

Officers approached a woman, who matched the Driver and Vehicle Services photo for Seefeldt, on the floor of the casino and when asked if she was Amy Seefeldt she told officers she was Amy’s sister, Ashley, and didn’t have any identification card to verify her name, the complaint states.

Seefeldt was informed she was under arrest and upon a search of her purse officers found three bags of a crystal-like substance which later tested positive for methamphetamine, authorities said, along with a black spoon with white residue.

Upon intake to the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center, the intake officer found another bag in Seefeldt’s purse which tested positive for meth and weighed just less than one gram, the report states. The total weight of methamphetamine found in Seefeldt’s purse weighed 47.05 grams, according to the complaint. The complaint does not list the weights of the first three bags of methamphetamine.

In 2012, Seefeldt was convicted of felony fifth-degree drug possession – not small amount of marijuana in Scott County.

Seefeldt was also charged with giving a peace officer a false name, a gross misdemeanor which has a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $3,000 fine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor with up to a $300 fine.



BEMIDJI, Minn. – Two chairmen were seated at the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners meeting table on Aug. 5 for a joint meeting between the two government entities.

Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. joined Beltrami County Board Chairman Jim Lucachick and was accompanied by Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians regional representatives, Tribal Secretary Don Cook, Sr., Hereditary Chief George King, the band's administrator and members of New Beginnings. Oshkiimaajitahdah (New Beginnings) is a skills development department on the reservation located in Redby.

A project centered around Oshkiimaajitahdah was the primary focus of the meeting. The organization and Beltrami County's Health and Human Services Department are spearheading a program that will bring a health and human services presence back to the reservation.

The project, called the Shared Service and Access Pilot aims to support access to Minnesota Family Investment Program services in the Red Lake Nation, which is approximately 30 miles from the county seat of Bemidji. The pilot will establish a video telepresence to connect people on the Red Lake reservation with an eligibility intake staffer in an electronic face-to-face interview. Information could then be faxed directly to Beltrami County Health and Human Services electronic files.

Programs anticipated to improve under the project include employment services referral, diversionary work program eligibility, child care assistance program eligibility, food support and expedited food support.

The outcome of the Shared Service and Access Pilot project will be a transition of Red Lake Nation to a direct relationship with the federal government and the Minnesota State Department of Human Services. The Beltrami County Health and Human Services department is assisting with training.

Jerry Loud, director of New Beginnings, said a trial test for a video conference is scheduled for Aug. 14. The Red Lake Internet Technology department has already been testing the video system with the county. Beltrami County commissioners and the Red Lake Tribal Council plan on holding a second meeting in Red Lake to address additional concerns shared by the reservation and county.

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