U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Visits Red Lake

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us_senator_amy_klobuchar_visits_red_lake_tribe.jpgOn 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

Cook.

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)