On July 2 the Red Lake Tribal Council
reconvened after a morning Special Council meeting as U.S. Senator
Amy Klobuchar visited with the Red Lake Tribal Council about issues
of concern to the tribe. Several tribal council members participated
in a conversation about Indian Country and the government to
government relationship between Red Lake Nation and the United
States. Tribal Council Officers Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr.,
Secretary Donald Cook, and Secretary Annette Johnson, were joined by
council members Gary Nelson and Randy "Jiggs" Kingbird of
Ponemah, Little Rock council member Robert "Charlie"
Reynolds, and Red Lake reps Roman Stately and Robert Smith. Chief
Billy King also attended.
The informal meeting began with the
tribal council expressing concerns to the Senator and two
accompanying staff. Several council members echoed an issue Red Lake
Chairman Darrell G. Seki brought up in his inaugural address and
continues to be on the council’s agenda. "We need to be able to
prosecute non-members who bring drugs to our reservation. They come
up from the Twin Cities with their drugs and endanger our youth. We
need to be able to deal with this," said Tribal Secretary Don
Klobuchar said she understood, pointing
out that; "the Senate passed legislation that enables Indian
tribes to prosecute non-members for domestic violence, maybe drugs
comes next," she said.
"We’ve had a bit of trouble in
this area of debate," Klobuchar noted. "There is a
perception that non-members cannot get a fair trial in any Indian
court. We need to deal with that issue. Passing this kind of
legislation is even more difficult," she said, "because so
many states do not have Indian Reservations and simply do not
understand the issues. We will continue to educate them."
(The Tribal Council has passed a
resolution a few months ago to allow banishment of non-members who
bring drugs on the Red Lake Reservation.)
"What can we do" asked Tribal
Treasurer Annette Johnson. "We’ve got problems with drugs, jobs,
and employment. We need money for education, we need
coordinated efforts between chemical health and law enforcement to
share resources. All these issues are related."
Ponemah Representative Gary Nelson
spoke of roads. "The formula favors small reservations, it
doesn’t’ work for us," said Nelson. "Smaller reservations
(land area) like Ho Chunk, receive more monies for roads than large
land reservations monies are based on the workforce instead of
population and land, that needs to be changed," he said.
Klobuchar said she had an extensive
list of federal Indian affairs programs she’d like to see receive
more funding. "I agree with you that these issues on the
reservation are interconnected," she said.
Other issues brought up by the council
included youth suicide, assisted living and housing, fire department,
wellness, and self-governance and the continued problems with
sequestration. The council also pointed out that grants don’t work,
they run out. What we need are 638 contracts.
Time running short, Senator Klobuchar
bid farewell to the council promising that her staff would follow up
on the concerns the council brought up.
But before running off to her next
meeting at Cass Lake, Klobuchar and her staff drove a few blocks to
the site of the new Red Lake Nation College, which is being built
along with a new government center behind the Red Lake powwow ring.
Klobuchar was met at the front door by
College President Dan King, Lorena Cook Chair of the College Board of
Regents, buildings architect Erik Wedge, and project contractors.
The building, near completion, seemed to greatly impress the
Senator as she toured the library, cafeteria, science lab, and
classrooms. She seemed particularly impressed with the beautiful view
students will enjoy of the sacred lake known by the Red Lake
Anishinaabeg as Miskwaagamiiwizaaga’iganiing.
PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
tours the deck outside of the Board of Regents meeting room. (Photo
by Michael Meuers)