Regional and Local Briefs: September 2014




PIERRE, S.D. – Two months after an 8

year-old girl was tasered by a police officer in October of 2013, the

Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner released a report

that stated “she was satisfied with an independent investigation,

deploying a taser was the best viable way to diffuse the situation,”

and no charges would be filed against the officer or the child.

Attorneys for the family, Dana Hanna

and Patrick Duffy, said the acts committed by the police were

atrocious and that they do not believe the report accurately reflects

what happened.

In October of 2013, four Pierre police

officers responded to a 911 call about an 8 year-old girl wielding a

knife. The call came from the girl’s babysitter, who told the

dispatcher the girl was trying to cut herself. According to the

police report, the officers were on the scene for just two minutes

before tasering the youth.



RED WING, Minn. – Red Wing city

officials and leaders of the Prairie Island Indian Community say they

are unhappy with a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruling that

does little to resolve the ongoing dispute over storage of spent

nuclear fuel.

The Prairie Island nuclear power plant

is on the Mississippi River in Red Wing and is adjacent to the Indian

community. According to reports, the NRC ruling opens the door for

on-site nuclear waste storage for 100 years or more. The language

also lifts a suspension on licensing additional nuclear facilities

even without the creation of a national repository for nuclear waste.

Ron Johnson, president of the Prairie

Island Indian Community’s tribal council, said in a statement, "…

the NRC affirmed a new rule and generic environmental impact

statement that concluded that spent nuclear fuel – some of the most

dangerous and toxic substances known to mankind – can be safely

stored 600 yards from our homes indefinitely if no geologic

repository is ever built. No other community sits as close to a

nuclear site and its waste storage."

According to the paper, Xcel Energy

says it has "38 casks containing nuclear waste near Red Wing and

is permitted to store waste in 64 casks when the current operating

licenses end in 2033 and 2034."



MINNEAPOLIS – The mayor of Minneapolis and the chairman of the

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux signed an agreement Sept. 2 that promotes

the use of biochar.

Jim Doten, Minneapolis’ environmental

services’ supervisor, says it’s a product similar to cooking

charcoal that’s used for gardening. “They really increase the

soil fertility, it increases crop yields, it reduces the amount of

inputs you need, the amount of fertilizer you need,” he said.

Biochar is typically made from waste

wood which is heated to 500 degrees in a sealed container. The

resulting product is very porous, so in garden soil, biochar holds

water and nutrients.

According to Doten, biochar will be in

the soil for hundreds of years, rather than breaking down and being

released into the atmosphere.

The Indian Health Board of Minneapolis

is currently one of five biochar demonstration gardens in the city.

The idea, according to organic farmer Christina Elias, is to grow

more food on smaller plots, near communities that need fresh produce.

The biochar for these gardens is mixed with compost at a Mdewakanton

organic recycling facility in Shakopee. This all-natural blend takes

the place of chemical fertilizers. The substance helps the atmosphere

as well. Traditional burning of waste wood creates carbon dioxide –

a greenhouse gas that contributes to atmospheric warming.

The making of biochar prevents this

harmful emission by keeping the carbon in the ground.



ONAMIA, Minn. – The Mille Lacs Band

of Ojibwe announced on Sept. 1 that Catherine Colsrud was appointed

as the new commissioner of administration. Her responsibilities

include providing oversight of the commissioners of community

development, health and human services, natural resources and

environment and the assistant commissioner of administration.

“I am honored that Chief Executive

Benjamin and the Band Assembly have placed their trust in me,”

Colsrud said in a statement. She will also oversee the day-to-day

operations of the tribal government, including fiscal

responsibilities, human resources contract and grant management. She

will serve as chief of staff to the Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin.

Colsrud is a Mille Lacs Band member

from District III and is a resident of Sandstone. Prior to her

appointment as commissioner of administration, Colsrud worked at both

Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley in a variety of

positions, including community relations manager, director of special

projects, assistant general manager and general manager. She holds a

bachelor’s of arts in business administration from Augsburg

College, member of Delta Mu Delta and National Honor Society for

Business Administration.



WHITE EARTH, Minn. – White Earth

Nation citizen Muriel Alexander-Alvarez, of Waubun, Minn., was one of

30 Minnesota veterans from across the state recently nominated for

making outstanding contributions to their communities.

From several nominees, 10 “Legacy”

veterans – a new 2014 award category – and 20 “On the Rise”

veterans were chosen to receive awards at the Minnesota Humanities

Center’s second annual Veterans’ Voices Award Ceremony on Sept.

11 in St. Paul.

To broaden the scope and celebrate

Veterans of all wars, the Humanities Center added a new “Legacy”

award category this year to recognize Minnesota veterans age 41 and

over. These veterans have honorably served in the military and are

now giving back to their local communities.

Alvarez, a “Legacy” veteran,

served in the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard as an Army

medic. She supports Wisdom Steps, an elder health care program on

White Earth Reservation, and the White Earth Council of Elders

program. She was also the first woman to serve in her National Guard


More than 381,000 veterans reside in

Minnesota and over 88,000 Minnesotans were deployed to Iraq and

Afghanistan. The Humanities Center recognizes the contributions of

Minnesota Veterans and will create new opportunities for Veterans to

speak in their own voice and connect with other Minnesotans.




Ho-Chunk Nation remains opposed to other casinos within its

aboriginal territory, President Jon Greendeer said.

The tribe operates six gaming

facilities in Wisconsin. The proposed Menominee Nation

off-reservation casino falls within Ho-Chunk territory, according to


“We don’t have a position against

the Menominee casino project – we have a position that is generally

applicable to the Menominee tribe that southern Wisconsin is Ho-Chunk

territory,” Greendeer told media. “There’s really nothing

formal that says we oppose the Menominee project, but what there is

is a position that objects to any tribe coming into Ho-Chunk


However, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the

state have come to an understanding regarding the Menominee Nation’s

proposed $800 million off-reservation casino in Kenosha. The

Ho-Chunks will be relieved of revenue sharing payments under its

Class III gaming compact if the new development ever opens.

"We estimate the Ho-Chunk Nation

may be relieved of future revenue sharing payments a few years after

a fully operational Kenosha casino opens," Department of

Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch wrote in a memo that Gov. Scott

Walker (R) sent to lawmakers who asked about the status of the

Menominee Nation casino.

The Ho-Chunk gaming facility nearest

to Kenosha is in Madison. That’s about 95 miles away from the

Menominee site.



ONAMIA, Minn. – On July 18, Mille

Lacs Band citizen Nora Benjamin called Mille Lacs Band DNR

conservation officer Mike Taylor to report she had seen an eagle that

was unable to fly in a ditch next to Shakopee Lake Road.

Taylor then notified Kelly Applegate,

MLB Wildlife Biologist. With the help of staff volunteer Jeff Mau,

Applegate captured the young bald eagle and delivered it to Dr.

Debbie Eskedahl at the Garrison Animal Hospital.

Eskedahl is in charge of the Hospital’s

Wild and Free program, a non-profit initiative that helps to rescue,

rehabilitate and release orphaned and injured wildlife. The

malnourished eagle was successfully rehabilitated and made a full

recovery after about three weeks of care. It was released in Kathio

State Park on Aug. 8. Band citizen Henry Sam said a prayer for the

eagle upon its release.

Band citizens, staff and guests who

witnessed the release included the band’s Chief Executive Melanie

Benjamin, DNR Commissioner Susan Klapel and DNR Executive Director

Brad Kalk. Nora Benjamin was also present for the release.

Applegate said that it took a strong

team effort to capture, rehabilitate and finally release the eagle,

adding that many people shared credit for the success. He said

special credit goes to Eskedahl, whose rescue program operates

entirely from donations.

“It was great to see so many people

turn out to see the beautiful Migizi released back to its home. It

was a great honor for me,” Applegate said.