OGLALA LAKOTA COUNTY SET FOR S.D.
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
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
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.
TENSIONS MOUNT IN AFTERMATH OF POLICE
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.
MILLE LACS REBUILDING AND REBRANDING
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
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,
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.
CITY’S CASE AGAINST FOND DU LAC
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.
TRIBAL ACTIVISTS WEIGH IN ON ENBRIDGE
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.
GRAND PORTAGE BAND INCLUDED IN
LEGISLATIVE FIX FOR BENEFITS
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."
LEECH LAKE BAND TO PARTNER WITH COUNTY
AND CITY FOR FUNDING
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,
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.