Regional and Local Briefs: January 2015




PINE RIDGE, S.D. – In the November

general election, voters in Shannon County overwhelmingly approved

changing the name to Oglala Lakota County, but the new name cannot go

into effect without legislative action.

Patrick Weber with the Gov. Dennis

Daugaard’s office said it’s unknown when the South Dakota Legislature

intends to pass the needed joint resolution to rename Shannon County.

The county includes the majority of

the land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It had been named

after Peter Shannon, a chief justice of the Dakota Territory Supreme

Court who later assisted in land deals negotiations with the Lakota.

Shannon isn’t well thought of among many Native Americans.

When the name change is finalized, it

will mark the first time in more than 100 years that a South Dakota

county has undergone a name change, according to the South Dakota

Historical Society.

Once the state legislature passes the

joint resolution, Daugaard will issue a public proclamation and

Shannon County will officially become Oglala Lakota County on the

first day of the month following the proclamation. Then the South

Dakota Department of Transportation will have to change highway maps

and roadside signs.

Oglala Lakota County’s new name will

have to be recorded at the federal level. The U.S. Census Bureau

keeps the official list of county names, according to Lou Yost,

executive secretary of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in

Virginia. Changes in the U.S. Geological Survey’s mapping system also

will be made. The county will need new stationery and seals for all

official business.

Ziebach County was created in 1911

when portions of Schnasse, Armstrong and Sterling counties were

merged to form Ziebach. And in 1983, Washabaugh County, an

unorganized county within the Pine Ridge reservation boundaries, was

absorbed by Jackson County.



RAPID CITY, S.D. – Some Rapid City

Native American leaders are upset that they were left out of a

meeting Dec. 22 with Mayor Sam Kooiker over the death of a tribal

citizen who was shot and killed by a Rapid City police officer

because he allegedly charged at the officer with a knife.

Allen Locke, 30, was shot several

times by Officer Anthony Meirose on Dec. 20 after the officer

responded to a call of an unwanted person in the Lakota Community

Homes addition. The South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation

is investigating the shooting.

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker met with

some Native leaders Dec. 22 to discuss race relations and show his

support for Meirose and the Rapid City Police Department. Some

members of the Native American community are unhappy with Kooiker’s

message and say more people should have been included in the


Kooiker and Rapid City Police Chief

Karl Jegeris met with form Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer,

Lakota Community Homes manager Fred Eisenbraun, Locke family

representative Chase Iron Eyes and activist Cody Hall.

Local Native leaders were wrongly

excluded and Kooiker "just made it worse," said Tad

Montgomery, chairman of the Sioux addition that sits next to the

Lakota Community Homes addition, where the shooting occurred.

Kooiker said he’s open to more

discussion on race relations, but that he wanted to send a firm

message that he stands behind the Rapid City Police Department and

Meirose. He said it would be wrong to assume that race was a factor

in this case.

Local leader and activist Karin Eagle

told reporters there’s confusion and apprehension within the Native

American community. She said her community will ask tribal leaders

and others to work toward meaningful dialogue to change attitudes in

the city. Kooiker issued a press release thanking the Locke family

for their request for peace during a time of grieving.



ONAMIA, MN – The Mille Lacs Band of

Ojibwe is nearing completion of a major redevelopment of the Eddy’s

Mille Lacs Resort on the western shores of Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia.

The redevelopment, anchored by a new

lakeside hotel and restaurant, is meant to position Eddy’s as “a

world-class resort and restaurant on the lake,” tribal

representatives said.

Construction is scheduled to be done

before the 2015 spring fishing opener. Mille Lacs Lake, long known as

a place to wet a line, is being rebranded as a destination that

offers more than good fishing, Joe Nayquonabe, CEO of Mille Lacs

Corporate Ventures said. “It’s actually a great recreation lake,

too – sailing, canoeing, kayaking in the summer and kite boarding

in the winter. We realized that we needed to play a part in that

rebranding and bring new amenities to this area. Our opportunity was

a rebuild of Eddy’s Resort.”

The band isn’t disclosing the cost

of the project. But the construction cost for the hotel and

restaurant is $10 million, according to a Mille Lacs County building


Amenities include 64 new hotel rooms,

a “Parlour” suite, and two- and three-room cabins north of the

resort across the access road. The new space will offer a large

meeting room, a restaurant, a marina, and a retail/bait shop,

Nayquonabe said.

One major change includes moving the

building closer to the lake so visitors can better enjoy the views.

Previously, a parking lot stood between the hotel and the lake.

The project, designed by

Minneapolis-based BKV Group, comes at a time when the Mille Lacs Band

is diversifying its investments. Last year, the band purchased two

hotels in downtown St. Paul: the 251-room DoubleTree Hotel at 411

Minnesota St. and the 468-room Crowne Plaza at 11 Kellogg Blvd.

Nayquonabe said the band was

“developing and refining” its strategic investment criteria and

that it had identified the hospitality industry as its main focus.

The band purchased Eddy’s Mille Lacs Resort in 2002, according to

its Web site.

Native American construction crews are

playing a big role in the project. At this stage, 48 percent of the

construction workers are Native Americans, according to Nayquonabe.

The goal was 20 percent. Officials say the workforce ranges between

40 and 65 workers.



DULUTH, MN – A federal judge

dismissed a lawsuit filed by the City of Duluth against the Fond du

Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa regarding the Carter Hotel.

The city had filed the suit in

response to the band’s request to have the Carter Hotel declared part

of the reservation. The move would have allowed the tribe to use the

property in conjunction with the Fond-du-Luth Casino to either build

a parking lot or expand the casino.

The tribe bought the Carter Hotel in

2010. The city alleged the band broke its contract when it asked the

National Indian Gaming Commission for permission to buy the hotel.

However, Minnesota District Judge

Susan Richard Nelson ruled on Dec. 23 that the band was correct; city

approval was not needed to make the purchase. The city has 30 days to

file an appeal.

Fond du Lac Band Chairwoman Karen

Diver issued the following statement regarding the judge’s decision:

“The Band is pleased with the latest ruling. The Courts continue to

rule that the various agreements related to the Fond-du-Luth Casino

are illegal under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The City has

another opportunity to focus its attention on repairing its

relationship with the Band, rather than on misguided litigation and

harmful public rhetoric.”

The tribe says they did not need to

obtain the city’s approval to take land into trust, ultimately

becoming tribal land because their agreement contained plain language

and did not require the band to obtain consent.

In the future, the band will have to

receive approval from Duluth for their purchases within city limits,

due to tribal territory now being defined as land located within the

limits of Duluth, which is transferred to the band.

In 2013, the federal court ruled that

the tribe had to pay $10.4 million in unpaid rent for the

Fond-du-Luth Casino to the city.



MCGREGOR, MN – Mille Lacs Band of

Ojibwe activists presented Aitkin County Commissioners with manoomin

at a Dec. 11 informational meeting about a proposed Enbridge pipeline

replacement project through McGregor.

The $7 billion Line 3 project is

proposed to assist the current, outdated pipeline boost its crude oil

capacity to 700,000 barrels a day – roughly double it’s currently

capacity of 390,000 barrels a day. The existing 1,000-mile route,

built in 1968, runs to the north of McGregor. But the new route would

have Line 3 follow Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper Pipeline route from

the point where both lines meet at the Clearbrook, MN Terminal, all

the way to Superior.

The shift would take Line 3 out of

Bemidji and Grand Rapids, and re–route it through McGregor, further

south. During the meeting, a group of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

members presented Aitkin County Commissioner Brian Napstad with wild

rice, a sacred plant to the Ojibwe, traced back to their ancestors’

migration. "It’s just something that I felt in my heart needed

to be said," Algin Garyt GoodSky said to media. "I figured

make a big impact because nobody else would."

He said his family is concerned that a

possible oil spill in the future would be catastrophic to the Band’s

way of life. "[We are] trying to tell these people otherwise –

tell them that this isn’t what we need,” GoodSky said.

Enbridge spokespersons said they’ve

spent roughly 150,000 hours on the ground, analyzing the route with

input from impacted landowners. Now, in the plan’s beginning stages,

when Enbridge spokesperson Kevin O’Connor said it’s important to have

landowners weigh in "where it’s going to be routed, why it’s

going to be routed here."

The company’s need will be determined

in February by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, when

Enbridge brings its proposal for approval.



WASHINGTON – Sens. Al Franken and Amy

Klobuchar (DFL-Minn.) along with Rep. Rick Nolan (DFL-Minn.) authored

a legislative fix to include the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa in a

previous bill that would ensure certain benefits.

H.R. 3608, the Grand Portage Band Per

Capita Adjustment Act, excludes funds paid by Minnesota to members of

the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians for hunting

and fishing from federal or state income tax. The House passed this

bill by voice vote in November, meaning it now heads to President

Obama’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

"This bill ensures that members

of the Grand Portage Band will receive important benefits they are

entitled to under the federal Treaty of 1854," Nolan said. "It

means a great deal to the Band and to our region, and I was pleased

to work with Senators Klobuchar and Franken to get this done."



CASS LAKE, MN – The Cass County Board

voted Dec. 16, to form a partnership with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

and the city of Cass Lake to seek federal Environmental Protection

Agency money to do a Countywide Brownfields Assessment.

Levi Brown, Leech Lake land and

environmental director, explained to the board that Superfund sites

are those where pollution is caused by a known responsible party,

while a Brownfields is usually a smaller site where the responsible

polluter is unknown.

He said Leech Lake Band has been

trying to apply for a Brownfields assessment grant, but has not been

successful, because the federal government prefers applicants who

work in partnership with other agencies. That is the reason, the band

seeks to work with the county and city, he said.

If a grant is approved, it would be

used to try to locate any polluted area in any part of Cass County or

the reservation that is on public land, Brown said. Once those sites

are known, then the county and band could apply for clean-up grants,

he explained.

Cass County Administrator Robert

Yochum reported Leech Lake Band indicated its support for the

Association of Minnesota Counties position on tribal and state child

welfare agreements. With the band supporting, the county now also

will support the AMC position.

The Band will provide a written

proposal for the county board to consider for offering support for

school funding to replace the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School. The

commissioners indicated at the meeting that they support the need for

the school replacement, but would prefer to see funds shifted from

somewhere else rather than adding new taxes to pay for it.

Brown said federal school construction

money generally has been channeled more toward reservation in western

U.S. states rather than the Midwest.