Regional and Local Briefs: May 2015





planning to gill net a maximum of 2,500 pounds of walleye on Lake

Vermilion this spring, the Fond du Lac Band decided not to undertake

the operation, according to a news release from the Bois Forte Band.

The decision came after a meeting in

late April between leaders of the three bands who have fishing rights

on Lake Vermilion under the 1854 Treaty — Bois Forte, Fond du Lac

and Grand Portage — and staff members of the Department of Natural

Resources and the 1854 Treaty Authority.

Prior to the decision, the Bois Forte

Reservation Tribal Council passed a resolution urging Fond du Lac not

to issue netting and spearing permits due to reasons including

methods and the upcoming Governor’s Fishing Opener event.

In response to this request, the Fond

du Lac Band agreed to suspend fishing this year. “Fond du Lac has

the right to harvest fish in the 1854 ceded territory, and we defend

their right,” said Bois Forte Tribal Chair Kevin Leecy. “But we

have significant concerns about them harvesting in our backyard. Fond

du Lac tribal members use motorized boats to net, while Bois Forte

tribal members net in the traditional way with canoes only. Also,

Fond du Lac has access to many lakes in the ceded territory besides

Lake Vermilion, which we consider part of our reservation.”

With the governor coming to Lake

Vermilion in a few weeks, Leecy said that the spotlight should be on

the community and tourism, not tribal netting. “Our Fortune Bay

Resort Casino is an active member and the single largest tax

contributor to the Lake Vermilion Resort & Tourism Association,”

Leecy said, “we have fostered good relationships with neighboring

resort owners. The opener should be a time for all of us to shine.”

Last month, the Fond du Lac Band

informed the state of Minnesota that it intended to allow its

citizens to net and spear on Lake Vermilion. The Band, as well as

many others, were looking for alternative spots to harvest fish since

the restrictions on Lake Mille Lacs indicated that the walleye

population is in trouble. An Associated Press story reported that

only 11,400 pounds of walleye would be available for netting this

year on Mille Lacs.

As a sign of respect, most bands that

have previously netted there have given their shares to the Mille

Lacs Band, and Fond du Lac has indicated they will not net on the big

lake. This fishery issue could lead to nearly 80 lakes in central and

northern Minnesota seeing additional tribal harvesting of walleye.



MAHNOMEN, Minn. – The White Earth

Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen is offering free, accredited

college classes to anybody this summer who is qualified to take them,

regardless of tribal citizenship or student status.

“You still have to go through the

admissions process and have a high school diploma or GED, but you

don’t have to be an enrolled student,” WETCC Communications

Specialist Joe Allen said.

There are four free classes to choose

from that go throughout the summer semester: Ojibwe Language 101,

Humanities, Plant Science and Education. Prospective students are

allowed to take up to seven credits free, which essentially means two

classes. “But people still need to pay for books or any fees

associated with the class,” Allen said. “But it’s still quite a


The college’s offer is valid only for

the summer, but Director Terry Janis said the college will likely

offer free classes again next summer. “We’ll take it on a

year-by-year basis,” Janis said. “We wanted to open ourselves up

for people to come and have an understanding that not only does the

college exist, but that there are high quality, amazing higher

education opportunities here.”

Enrollment at the college has taken a

hit over the past couple of years, going from a high of 150 to a low

of 58 last year. Leadership at the college came under scrutiny a

couple of years ago, but since Janis took over last year, he and the

staff have a goal to see enrollment up to 200 within three years.

Today, enrollment today sits at 65 students.

Most of the summer classes begin May 18

and are typically two days a week. Three of them are on-campus only

and the Humanities course is hybrid, meaning one day is done

on-campus and one day online. For more information visit



RAPID CITY, S.D. – The request for

the Pennington County Commission to submit comment to the U.S.

Department of Interior regarding the property known as Pe’ Sla has

been extended multiple times and April 21 saw a continued extension.

Pe’ Sla, near Deerfield Lake, was

purchased by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in 2012.

Lisa Colombe, a Rosebud Sioux Tribal

citizen said this is about protecting one of the few natural, sacred

pieces of land the Natives have left. "It’s more to ensure that

the tribal members and community members that wish to take part in

ceremonies, which could just be on your own, going up on the hill and

praying on your own, for your own needs or your own family, but that

basically we are never denied access, you know, and also there were

some other interested parties that looked into purchasing the same

area and do some commercialization of the area."

A consultant for the Shakopee

Mdewakanton Sioux Community says that if the land is accepted in "in

trust" status then it is Indian land and will be under Indian

jurisdiction, not county jurisdiction.



LOWER BRULE, S.D. – Hundreds of

mourners, representatives from South Dakota’s tribal governments and

state and federal leaders gathered on April 9 to remember late Lower

Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Michael Jandreau, who was considered an

icon in Indian Country.

Leaders from other tribes in South

Dakota and neighboring states paid respects to Jandreau and told

stories to a packed gymnasium of funeral-goers at the Lower Brule

Community Center. The 71-year-old Jandreau died on April 3 from heart

problems at a Sioux Falls hospital after serving as a leader in the

tribe for more than 35 years.

Jandreau was elected to the Lower Brule

Tribal Council in the early 1970s and later became chairman. He

earned praise from tribal members and state and federal leaders for

economic development projects that benefited the 1,300 Native

Americans on the reservation.

The tribe owns the Golden Buffalo

Casino & Motel, a propane plant, a construction company, hunting

and tourism enterprises, and a farm that is known as one of the

nation’s top popcorn producers and processers.

But Jandreau spent his final days

defending himself against allegations of financial wrongdoing

outlined in January by Human Rights Watch. The group accused him and

others of diverting money and concealing financial activity. Jandreau

and Marshall Matz, who has been an attorney for the tribe, have

vigorously denied those allegations.

Those present described Jandreau as a

tireless champion of the Lower Brule Sioux and Indian Country as

whole who was unconcerned with taking credit for his work. Crow Creek

Sioux Tribal Chairwoman Roxanne Sazue said Jandreau was a very

spiritual man, and the ceremony included both Catholic and

traditional Native American elements.

"I don’t know if we have someone

within our whole, big nation to do what Mike has done keeping us

together," Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele


Jandreau was born Oct. 20, 1943, in

Fort Thompson on the Crow Creek reservation. He was educated in

Catholic American Indian schools. His wife, Jackie, died in 2011.



FT. YATES, N.D. – Cheyenne River

Sioux Tribe citizens could see $69 million in offers under the Land

Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, South Dakota Public Radio


The tribe signed a cooperative

agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior in January to help

facilitate outreach for the program. Offers are expected to go out to

8,000 landowners. ‘The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is one of the

most highly fractionated reservations in the country. The Land

Buy-Back program will assist us in our continued effort to

consolidate our land base," Chairman Harold Frazier said in


The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement

provided $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their

fractionated interests. DOI will pay "fair market value" as

required by the Indian Land Consolidation Act.

Participation is entirely voluntary.

Any land that is acquired will be returned to tribes. As of April 3,

DOI has extended $924 million in offers to nearly 49,000 owners. Some

$365 million in transactions have been concluded so far, according to

a chart posted on the program’s website.

The equivalent of more than 577,000

acres have been returned to tribal governments as a result of the




WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pine Ridge

Indian Reservation was designated one of eight new Promise Zones, the

Obama Administration announced on April 27.

Promise Zones are high-poverty

communities, in which the federal government partners with local

leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational

opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime,

enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the

community, according to a release from the U.S. Department of


All Promise Zones receive: priority

access to federal investments that further their strategic plans;

federal staff members on the ground to help implement a zone’s goals;

and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage

volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development Secretary Julián Castro and Agriculture Secretary Tom

Vilsack announced new Promise Zone designations Tuesday in the

following communities: Camden, N.J.; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis,

Ind.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis/St. Louis

County, Mo.; Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,

S.D.; and South Carolina Low Country.

The new Promise Zones join five others

that Obama designated in January 2014: San Antonio, Los Angeles,

Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation

of Oklahoma.