NEWS BRIEFS: Oct 2017

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LEECH LAKE RECEIVES $3.3M FOR TRIBAL VETERANS CEMETERY 

CASS LAKE, MN – The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration announced in September that it has awarded the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe a $3.3M grant for construction of the Leech Lake Veterans Cemetery in Cass Lake, Minnesota.

The grant will fund the construction of a main entrance, a combined administration and maintenance facility, roads, an assembly area, a committal shelter, 419 casketed sites, 32 cremains gravesites, 64 columbarium niches, a memorial wall, a memorial walk, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure. The project will develop three acres, and serve 2,959 Tribal Veterans and their families.

HUD GRANT TO HELP LOWER SIOUX HOUSING PROJECT

WASHINGTON, DC – The Lower Sioux Dakota community will receive a $600,000 Indian Community Development Grant Block to help their need for housing, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in a press release.

The grant will be used as part of a water infrastructure development that will support a housing development project for 137 families to be constructed within the upcoming five years.

According to the news release from HUD, the current vacancy rate in Lower Sioux is zero and the tribe has planned for significant new housing development over the next five years. This Water Improvement Project is needed to meet the tribe’s needs for decent and safe housing .

The grant is part of nearly $1.8 million awarded to three Native American tribes in Minnesota to improve housing conditions and to stimulate local economic development. Grants were also awarded to the Bois Forte and Fond Du Lac tribes.

The Bois Forte Chippewa Tribe will receive $555,203 to renovate an elderly nutrition program building and food distribution building.

The Fond Du Lac Tribe is being awarded $600,000 for the expansion of broadband services.

DOJ WON’T COLLECT DATA ON NATIVE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Justice continues to resist calls to collect more data on trafficking of Native Americans despite pressure from advocates for Native women and key members of Congress.

According to the department, federal authorities prosecuted just two trafficking cases in Indian Country between 2013 and 2016. Only one of them resulted in a conviction.

The number pales in comparison to the 1,000-plus cases that were prosecuted in other jurisdictions during the same time. It also flies in the face of a consistent stream of reports which show that Native Americans, especially women and girls, are victimized at rates far higher than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.

The department isn’t able to explain the disparity because federal agents aren’t required to determine whether a trafficking victim is Native American. And it doesn’t plan on collecting that data any time soon.

N.D. ACCEPTS $15M FROM WEALTHY BACKERS OF DAPL

BISMARCK, ND – The state of North Dakota has accepted a $15 million “donation” from the wealthy backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline while politicians beg the federal government for even more money.

The money will help the state cover the costs of its violent response to the NoDAPL protests. According to Gov. Doug Burgum (R), the Department of Emergency Services incurred $40 million while the Morton County Sheriff’s Department incurred $3 million between August 2016 and February 2017.

The state previously secured $10 million in taxpayer funds to cover its law enforcement costs. The money came from a Department of Justice program that is not open to tribal governments.

The state is flush with billions of dollars in energy tax revenues but has said the federal government bears responsibility for the NoDAPL police actions because the encampment took place on federally-managed land near the home of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

SMSC TO FINISH CASINO EXPANSION IN TIME FOR SUPER BOWL

PRIOR LAKE, MN – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is scheduled to complete a $90 million casino expansion project in time for the Super Bowl in 2018.

The tribe is adding a nine-story hotel with 180 rooms and a 70,000-square-foot convention center to the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. The project is due to open by January 1, according to a countdown timer on Mystic Lake Center website.

The expansion will bring the total number of rooms at the facility to 766.