U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Visits Red Lake
Friday, July 17 2015
Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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us_senator_amy_klobuchar_visits_red_lake_tribe.jpgOn July 2 the Red Lake Tribal Council reconvened after a morning Special Council meeting as U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited with the Red Lake Tribal Council about issues of concern to the tribe. Several tribal council members participated in a conversation about Indian Country and the government to government relationship between Red Lake Nation and the United States. Tribal Council Officers Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Secretary Donald Cook, and Secretary Annette Johnson, were joined by council members Gary Nelson and Randy "Jiggs" Kingbird of Ponemah, Little Rock council member Robert "Charlie" Reynolds, and Red Lake reps Roman Stately and Robert Smith. Chief Billy King also attended.

The informal meeting began with the tribal council expressing concerns to the Senator and two accompanying staff. Several council members echoed an issue Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki brought up in his inaugural address and continues to be on the council's agenda. "We need to be able to prosecute non-members who bring drugs to our reservation. They come up from the Twin Cities with their drugs and endanger our youth. We need to be able to deal with this," said Tribal Secretary Don Cook.

Klobuchar said she understood, pointing out that; "the Senate passed legislation that enables Indian tribes to prosecute non-members for domestic violence, maybe drugs comes next," she said.

"We've had a bit of trouble in this area of debate," Klobuchar noted. "There is a perception that non-members cannot get a fair trial in any Indian court. We need to deal with that issue. Passing this kind of legislation is even more difficult," she said, "because so many states do not have Indian Reservations and simply do not understand the issues. We will continue to educate them."

(The Tribal Council has passed a resolution a few months ago to allow banishment of non-members who bring drugs on the Red Lake Reservation.)

"What can we do" asked Tribal Treasurer Annette Johnson. "We've got problems with drugs, jobs, and employment.  We need money for education, we need coordinated efforts between chemical health and law enforcement to share resources. All these issues are related."

Ponemah Representative Gary Nelson spoke of roads. "The formula favors small reservations, it doesn’t' work for us," said Nelson. "Smaller reservations (land area) like Ho Chunk, receive more monies for roads than large land reservations monies are based on the workforce instead of population and land, that needs to be changed," he said.

Klobuchar said she had an extensive list of federal Indian affairs programs she'd like to see receive more funding. "I agree with you that these issues on the reservation are interconnected," she said.

Other issues brought up by the council included youth suicide, assisted living and housing, fire department, wellness, and self-governance and the continued problems with sequestration. The council also pointed out that grants don't work, they run out. What we need are 638 contracts.

Time running short, Senator Klobuchar bid farewell to the council promising that her staff would follow up on the concerns the council brought up.

But before running off to her next meeting at Cass Lake, Klobuchar and her staff drove a few blocks to the site of the new Red Lake Nation College, which is being built along with a new government center behind the Red Lake powwow ring.

Klobuchar was met at the front door by College President Dan King, Lorena Cook Chair of the College Board of Regents, buildings architect Erik Wedge, and project contractors. The building, near completion, seemed to greatly impress the Senator as she toured the library, cafeteria, science lab, and classrooms. She seemed particularly impressed with the beautiful view students will enjoy of the sacred lake known by the Red Lake Anishinaabeg as Miskwaagamiiwizaaga'iganiing.

PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar tours the deck outside of the Board of Regents meeting room. (Photo by Michael Meuers)

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