Regional and Local Briefs: June 2014




MORTON, Minn. – Over 7,000 descendants

of self-identified “loyal Mdewakanton Indians” filed suit in

Minnesota federal district court on May 20 to reclaim a 12

square-mile portion of land in Redwood, Renville and Sibley counties.

If successful, the Lower Sioux

Community, along with nearly 100 other residents of the area, would

be removed from their homes and possibly required to pay damages to

the plaintiffs for trespass. Denny Prescott, Lower Sioux Community

President said, “these individuals are not a tribe, nor do they

represent the interests or values of the Lower Sioux Community.”

Members of the council said they had

not heard much about the lawsuit until it had been filed and they

read about it in newspapers. “We’re not sure what land they are

specifically talking about,” tribal council member Gary Prescott

said, adding that no map of the area outlined in the lawsuit has been

provided to them.

With land in three counties making up

the description in the lawsuit, many entities and individuals have

been listed as defendants, including the Lower Sioux Community. While

the lawsuit lists the Lower Sioux by name, Denny Prescott said

neither the council nor the community as a whole have officially been

served in the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the council is gathering

information in anticipation of being served with the lawsuit, and

that, Denny Prescott added, is going to mean significant expense for

the community. Once the tribe is served, it has 30 days to respond in

writing to the claims in the lawsuit.

In the 1850s, a treaty signed between

the United States and members of the Mdewakanton tribe in Minnesota

established what is known as the Lower Sioux Community and its

homeland in the Redwood area. Initially, the commitment to the tribe

was for a 10-mile wide strip of land on either side of the Minnesota

River, but over time that land was taken away from them. It was in

1934, as part of the Indian Reorganization Act, when the current

Lower Sioux community reservation, which is made up of just over

1,700 acres, was established.



BEMIDJI, Minn. – Three people were

arrested May 23 en route to Red Lake transporting 43 grams of

methamphetamine from the Twin Cities.

Alex "Sparky"

Dejesus-Zuniga, 18, and Delisha Rae Rodriguez, 25, of Richfield,

Minn., and Joseph Jacob "Jake" Thunder, III, 47, of Redby,

face first-degree conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charges

after being stopped by local law enforcement on U.S. Highway 71 south

of Bemidji.

Once pulled over, law enforcement

observed several hypodermic needles strewn about the interior of the

vehicle, the complaint said. After a search, Dejesus-Zuniga was found

to be in possession of one bag containing approximately 28.5 grams of

methamphetamine and a separate bag containing 14.5 grams was inside

Dejesus-Zuniga’s backpack. Rodriguez was in possession of several

micro-baggies consistent with packaging meth for street sale,

according to the criminal complaint.

Thunder told law enforcement he picked

up his daughter, Rodriguez, and her friend "Sparky" in the

Twin Cities and that they talked about bringing methamphetamine to

the Red Lake Reservation because it sold for very high prices on the

reservation, according to court documents. Thunder was to receive 1

gram of meth for transporting Rodriguez and Dejesus-Zuniga.

Rodriguez originally told law

enforcement she was not aware of methamphetamine in the vehicle and

that "Sparky" was a friend who may be moving to Red Lake

with her, according to the complaint. Rodriguez later told law

enforcement she knew "Sparky" was in possession of meth and

that she was a methamphetamine user. She also told law enforcement

Dejesus-Zuniga’s name was "Louise Dejesus," the same name

Dejesus-Zuniga gave law enforcement. Dejesus-Zuniga confessed to

owning the backpack but denied knowing there was any methamphetamine


Dejesus-Zuniga, Thunder and Rodriguez

are charged with first-degree conspiracy to distribute

methamphetamine, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years

and a $1 million fine. Dejesus-Zuniga is also charged with giving a

peace officer a false name with intent to obstruct justice, which

adds another potential 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Thunder, Dejesus-Zuniga and Rodriguez

are currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail. Future court

dates were not immediately available.



PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – The Shakopee

Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the City of Prior Lake signed a water

purchase agreement on May 28 giving the city access to a new water

supply for the next 25 years. SMSC expanded its North Water Treatment

Facility on McKenna Road to help accommodate the anticipated

long-term needs of the tribe and the city.

The facility expansion, which began

last summer, includes an additional well drawing from the Jordan

Aquifer, a 300,000-gallon in-ground tank to provide increased water

storage and an increase in treatment capacity. Service to the City of

Prior Lake is scheduled to begin in June and continue for 25 years.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city may purchase up to 700

gallons of water per minute.

SMSC’s expansion of the North Water

Treatment Facility will help the tribe and the city keep pace with

their projections for future residential and commercial development.

The tribe’s Land and Natural Resources Department conducts pumping

tests and monitors performance data from the Jordan Aquifer. The new

well involved in this expansion was strategically located to minimize

interference with other wells and maximize the aquifer’s protective

cover, which helps prevent pollution of the aquifer.

The North Water Treatment Facility

opened in 2007 and has met or exceeded all U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency and Indian Health Service guidelines since its



ONEIDA, Wis. – Chairman Ed Delgado, who

weathered a failed recall attempt by the voters of the tribe, came in

third in a May 10 primary for the nation’s highest office.

The two challengers who beat the

incumbent, by a two-to-one margin each, were Greg Mattson and

Cristina Danforth. According to preliminary tallies, the former won

343 votes while Danforth earned 324 votes; Delgado’s votes totaled


Earlier this year, he won a tribal

court fight to remove him from office. A tribal appeals court ruled

there were insufficient grounds to remove Delgado.

The Business Committee primary was the

second in the tribe’s history. A general election is set for July

12 that includes elections for chairman, vice chair, treasurer,

secretary and council members. This summer’s ballot includes

vacancies for eight other boards, committees and commissions.

Fifteen candidates emerged from the

primary and will run to fill five council seats during the general




RAPID CITY, S.D. – Ten people,

ranging in age from 18 to 59, from Porcupine, Pine Ridge and Rapid

City were arraigned on federal drug charges and pleaded not guilty

May 30.

The men and women face charges for

conspiracy and distribution of cocaine and marijuana, according to

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson. The conspiracy is alleged to have

operated since 2005, according to federal court documents.

The accused are:

Thomas Patrick Brewer, aka Pat Brewer,

48, of Pine Ridge, indicted for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The

maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in custody and/or a

$1 million fine; Gerald LeBeau, AKA Gers LeBeau, 53, of Rapid City,

charged with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to

distribute cocaine and marijuana. If convicted he faces a minimum

penalty of five years, up to 40 years in custody and/or a $5 million

fine; Neil LeBeau, 33, of Porcupine, charged with conspiracy to

distribute cocaine and marijuana;

Pablo LeBeau, 18, of Pine Ridge,

charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The

maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in custody and/or a

$1 million fine; Twila LeBeau, 59, of Pine Ridge, indicted on

conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The maximum penalty

upon conviction is up to 20 years in custody and/or a $1 million

fine; Susan Schrader, 52, of Pine Ridge, charged with conspiracy to

distribute cocaine, faces of up to 20 years in custody upon


Holly Wilson, 53, of Pine Ridge, was

indicted on conspiracy to distribute cocaine and two counts of

distribution of cocaine. If convicted, she could be sentenced to 20

years in custody and/or a $1 million fine; Marie Zephier, 28, of Pine

Ridge, is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and

marijuana; maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in

custody and/or a $1 million fine; Whitney Zephier, 26, of Pine Ridge,

charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The

maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in custody and/or a

$1 million fine.

The investigation is being conducted

by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the

Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office

of Justice Services, the South Dakota Division of Criminal

Investigation and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.