RED LAKE STATE OF BAND LOOKS TO FUTURE
RED LAKE, Minn. – Red Lake Band of
Chippewa Chairman Darrell Seki offered an optimistic outlook on the
condition of the nation, but said social issues still challenge
Seki described the nation’s situation
in the 2014 State of the Band address on March 27 at the Humanities
Center. "I am honored and humbled to stand before you as your
Red Lake chairman," Seki said, after opening with an
introduction in Ojibwemowin. "Our nation has made great progress
to build and sustain our culture and provide a stable, strong future
for generations to come. However, we still have plenty to do an
Seki listed the plagues of illegal
drugs, alcohol, gang violence, bullying and suicides as heavy burdens
Red Lake citizens carry but encouraged citizens to overcome them.
Following that ceremony, Seki launched
into the statistics for the band since he took office nine months
ago. Current enrollment is at 11,707 enrolled citizens. The permanent
trust grew by 4.7 percent in 2014 and the treasurer made a special
distribution in December of $250 per citizen.
The Red Lake Police Department now has
its own dive team and the purchase of snowmobiles has made remote law
enforcement operations more feasible, Seki said. The juvenile
detention center has opened to "operate with the goal of
reducing the amount of repeat offenders." And 100 children
joined police officers for the "Cops and Bobbers" fishing
program last summer.
Seki moved on to the housing
situation, noting that 45 units were built last year in the Highland
Addition II and sold to Red Lake citizens for $78,000 at five percent
interest. Development of six more units at Heart Lake is underway.
Seki’s gaming report held both good
and bad news. Gaming employed 981 people in 2014, an increase from
925 in 2013, with 87 percent of the employees being Red Lake
citizens. Gaming wages and benefits came to $25 million in 2014, an
increase from $24.4 million in 2013. However, because of the
unusually cold and snowy winter in 2014, gaming income decreased by
$900,000 to $8.1 million in 2014, down from from $9.1 million in
2013. Business did pick up during the warmer months of 2014, he said.
Seki said the ultimate political goal
is to "return Red Lake to the front of Indian Country by not
only protecting our sovereignty, but expanding it. The fight isn’t
over, but we will continue to lead the fight."
BILL ALLOWING RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION TO
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota lawmakers
are considering a bill that allows religious exemptions to autopsies,
spurred by the recent mishandling of Ojibwe leader Mushkoub Aubid.
Aubid’s widow, Winnie LaPrairie,
offered testimony on March 26 on her days-long fight in February to
have Aubid’s body released. "I still could not take him home. I
was heartbroken," LaPrairie, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of
Lake Superior Chippewa, told state lawmakers. "Everything that
my family went through could happen tomorrow or to someone else.
Please don’t let that happen."
A bill is heading to the House floor
after a committee unanimously approved it on March 26 and a similar
bill is progressing in the Senate. At least eight states allow
religious objections to autopsies.
Lawmakers must balance the concerns of
medical examiners against those of Native American families and other
religious groups whose faith leads them to object to autopsies.
Representatives from both sides said that the bill offered by Rep.
Steve Green (R-Fosston) achieved such a balance.
Green’s bill requires medical
examiners to notify a family of a planned autopsy and gives the
family a basis to object on religious grounds. But it also provides
an avenue for autopsies to proceed in cases of crime investigations,
concerns about public health and a dozen other instances of
"compelling state interest."
Aubid was involved in a car accident
in northeastern Minnesota but died of a heart condition. LaPrairie
and her family couldn’t take Aubid’s body home to East Lake for a
traditional funeral because the county medical examiner wanted to
perform an autopsy. After days of pleading and assistance from county
attorneys, authorities finally released Aubid’s body.
A similar incident in the death of a
24-year-old tribal citizen Autumn Martineau that same week hammered
home the need in proponents’ mind to change state law. It’s not only
Native Americans who may have religious objections. Brian Rusche of
the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition said that the bill could
also give comfort to members of Muslim, Amish, Hmong and Orthodox
Jewish communities, too. Gov. Mark Dayton supports the measure.
JUDGE RULES FOR TRIBAL PLAINTIFFS IN
ICWA VIOLATION SUIT
RAPID CITY, S.D. – A federal judge
ruled March 31 that South Dakota officials repeatedly violated the
Indian Child Welfare Act by not allowing parents to present evidence
in hearings regarding the removal of their children.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge
Jeffrey Viken ruled in favor of the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux
Tribes and parents Rochelle Walking Eagle, Madonna Pappan and Lisa
Young, who filed the lawsuit in 2013.
The complaint alleged that Pennington
County officials were removing Native American children from their
homes based on insufficient evidence and hearings that violated the
federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The plaintiff’s lawyers
referenced a hearing on two children that lasted a little more than
"Judge Davis and the other
defendants failed to protect Indian parents’ fundamental rights to a
fair hearing by not allowing them to present evidence to contradict
the state’s removal documents," Viken wrote in his ruling. "The
defendants failed by not allowing the parents to confront and
cross-examine (Department of Social Services) witnesses. The
defendants failed by using documents as a basis for the court’s
decisions which were not provided to the parents and which were not
received in evidence at the 48-hour hearings."
The defendants were Judge Jeff Davis,
Pennington County Prosecutor Mark Vargo, state Department of Social
Services Director Lynne Valenti and Pennington County Department of
Social Services employee Luann Van Hunnik.
Federal law requires that Indian
children removed from homes be placed with relatives or with other
Native American families, except in unusual circumstances. Tribal
officials contend South Dakota removes too many Native American
children from their homes and then puts them in foster care with
WINNEBAGO TEAM WINS STATE BASKETBALL
LINCOLN, Neb. – More than seven decades
of waiting came to an end on March 14 for the Winnebago boys
The Indians completed their 28-game
journey with a 66-51 win against Columbus Scotus in the Nebraska
Class C-1 state tournament final at Pinnacle Bank Arena. It was
Winnebago’s first state title since 1940, when it defeated Minatare
23-22 in Class B.
With 31 seconds left in the game and
senior Mathew Wingett at the free-throw line, Winnebago coach Jeff
Berridge pulled his starters, much to the delight of the large
Winnebago following. After Wingett made his second free throw to
finish the game with 22 points and the tournament with 68, he exited
and started hugging teammates.
With eight seconds left, senior
reserve Levi Blackhawk stopped his dribble and held the ball in one
hand. When the horn sounded, he threw the ball in the air and when it
came down, the Indians were halfway to midcourt for a huge dog pile.
"We’ve been talking about winning
this tournament," Wingett said. "We said after we win the
state championship we’re gonna be gods, we’re gonna be legends."
Winnebago players gathered in a
hallway after cutting down the nets and receiving their gold medals.
There were more hugs, high-fives and tears. Legends, maybe, but
The Indians (27-1) sprinted to a
14-point halftime lead behind the scoring of Mathew’s younger
brother, David, a 6-foot-5 sophomore. David Wingett scored 15 points
in the first half, including a 3-for-4 effort from beyond the arc.
Isaiah Medina added nine of his 16 points in the first half.
Winnebago shot 48 percent for the
game, compared with 34 percent for Scotus. The Shamrocks were
7-for-27 on three-pointers, while the Indians made 8 of 15.
SOUTH DAKOTA AGENCY EXTENDS DEADLINE
FOR TRANSCANADA DISPUTE
PIERRE, S.D. – The state Public
Utilities Commission on March 31 granted two short extensions of
deadlines to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in the permit certification
process for the Keystone XL pipeline project.
The commission agreed with the Rosebud
Sioux lawyer that TransCanada, the project sponsor, should have been
more responsive during the past two months to his information
requests. The tribal government consequently received an additional
eight days to pre-file its witnesses’ direct testimony. Those
statements now are due April 10. The deadline for filing rebuttal
testimony from Rosebud Sioux expert witnesses also was pushed to
However, none of the other interveners
received more time. Among them are the Yankton, Cheyenne River and
Standing Rock Tribal governments, Dakota Rural Action and Bold
TransCanada received a state permit in
June 2010 to build the Keystone XL pipeline through western and
south-central South Dakota on a route that happens to avoid
reservation lands. The pipeline would carry tar sands oil from
Alberta through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska before connecting
with an existing network.
President Barack Obama vetoed a
measure by the Republican-controlled Congress to expedite the federal
permit necessary for the pipeline to pierce the Canada-U.S. border.
Various lawyers in the proceeding over
the South Dakota permit are preparing for a May 5-8 evidentiary
hearing before the PUC. South Dakota law requires that a company
needs to certify the permit conditions will still be met if
construction hasn’t commenced within four years. That is the
process now under way for TransCanada. The various sides have been
engaged in discovery of evidence from each other.
Rosebud Sioux lawyer Matthew Rappold
said his request for access to TransCanada safety records was filed
Feb. 20. TransCanada produced 34 documents on the afternoon of March
30. He asked the commission how he could be expected, under those
circumstances, to prepare testimony that is due on April 2.
Commissioners Chris Nelson and Gary
Hanson didn’t hide their opinions that the Rosebud Sioux had been
put at a disadvantage. “I think this is a very unique position for
Rosebud,” Hanson said. “I personally believe you need to have
additional time.” William Taylor, a lawyer representing
Trans-Canada, asked that the schedule changes apply only to the
Rosebud Sioux. The three commissioners agreed. They decided that only
the Rosebud Sioux tribal government presented evidence it was
directly impeded by TransCanada.
They voted 3-0 to reject a request
from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to push the evidentiary hearing
back two months to mid-July.
LOWER BRULE SIOUX TRIBAL CHAIRMAN
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A tribal official
says the longtime chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in central
South Dakota is hospitalized with a serious illness.
Tribal attorney Marshall Matz said
that Michael Jandreau is suffering from complications from pneumonia.
He told media that Jandreau was flown to a Sanford Health in Sioux
Falls on March 27 and that it is a serious situation.
Jandreau was recently in the spotlight
after a report by human rights advocacy organization showed that
millions of taxpayer dollars meant to benefit the Lower Brule Sioux
Reservation have disappeared over several years. The report accuses
Jandreau and others of diverting money and concealing financial
WILD DOGS KILL WOMAN ON ROSEBUD
WHITE RIVER, S.D. – Julia Charging
Whirlwind, 49, was attacked and killed by a pack of wild reservation
dogs in the Lower Swift Bear Community on the Rosebud Indian
Two of the dogs were shot and killed
by the Mellette County Sheriff, who responded to a call about the
attack shortly before 6:30 a.m., on March 14. Charging Whirlwind was
transported by ambulance to the Rosebud Hospital, where she died.
Packs of dogs known as “rez dogs”
have been a significant problem on reservations and have caused
numerous deaths in recent years on different reservations in Indian
Country. Tribal citizens want tribal police to take more aggressive
legal action against those who do not contain their dogs and to
round-up stray dogs when there are no apparent owners.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe released the
following statement on March 14 in response to the death: “All
residents of the Rosebud Reservation are hereby notified to tie-up or
secure their dogs. Any dogs found at-large, outside the owner’s
property will be impounded.” The statement was signed by acting
Tribal President William Kindle
Charging Whirlwind was a mother of
five children and was employed as a childcare worker at the Spotted
Tail Children’s Home on the Rosebud Reservation.