State and Local News Briefs
Band purchases Lundeen's Tackle Castle: Commissioner of Natural Resources Bradley Harrington announced last month that the Mille Lacs Band closed on the purchase of Lundeen’s Tackle Castle Bait Shop on July 31. "We are creating a plan internally that will serve the Band and the greater community," Bradley said. "We are always committed to serving the community while being a steward of Mille Lacs Lake. Our plan will reflect those priorities. We appreciate the Lundeens for their many years of service to the fishing community and for providing a generational landmark in the Mille Lacs area. For now, the business is closed pending internal planning discussions."
Enbridge insurance deemed insufficient: The Minnesota Department of Commerce said last month that Enbridge’s oil spill insurance is deficient and doesn’t comply with required conditions for the company to build its Line 3 pipeline. The Public Utilities Commission approved the project June 28 but required Enbridge to meet certain conditions, including adequate insurance and other financial guarantees to cover oil spill damages. Source: startribune.com.
Two injured in shooting: According to a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County, two individuals were injured by gunshots while leaving their home on Mosey Drive on August 3. A 57-year-old Milaca resident, John Kevin David Scruggs, was charged with first degree assault causing great bodily harm, second degree assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony firearms violation, and other charges. Brenda Lanise Bethune, 42, also of Milaca, was charged with third degree assault and gross misdemeanor drug possession. Source: messagemedia.com/ millelacs.
Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School dedicated: An editorial in the Star Tribune July 31 celebrated the reopening of Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School near Bena on the Leech Lake Reservation but called on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who attended the grand reopening, to do more to fix crumbling Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. “Every kid served by the federally run BIE system deserves the same safe, modern learning facility that Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig students now have,” the editorial states. “It is a disgrace that roughly 50 schools — about a third of total BIE schools — still are in need of replacement or serious overhaul.” Source: startribune.com.
Band member featured on MPR: Band member Colin Cash, founding member of the Sober Squad, was one of 13 recovering addicts and alcoholics featured in a Minnesota Public Radio story on the 40th Annual Celebration of Sobriety Powwow at the Mash-ka-wisen treatment center on the Fond du Lac reservation. Colin talked about overdosing on drugs and wondering what they would tell his son Brendan. “When that thought went through my head, I began to pray,” said Colin. “I said ‘Gichi- manidoo, please don’t let me die.’ And I meant it with every cell in my body. I haven’t prayed that hard since, but that was the beginning of my journey, right there.” Source: mprnews.org.
Scenic byway in the works: The Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway Steering Committee held a celebratory meeting July 31 after a five-road route around the lake was officially designated a state scenic byway. Source: messagemedia.co/millelacs.
State and National News Briefs
Indigenous food movement takes root: American Indian communities are sponsoring cooking classes, gardening projects, and orchards as part of a growing movement encouraging healthy traditional foods. Leech Lake, Lower Sioux, and Mille Lacs have launched food sovereignty programs in recent years in response to high rates of diabetes and obesity. “It’s slow work, but we’re seeing this growing momentum,” said Diane Wilson, executive director of Dream of Wild Health, a nonprofit with a farm where Indian teens are taught about agriculture and nutrition. “I hope it’s a sign of a really significant change in the relationship with our food.” Source: startribune.com.
Four tribes appeal PUC’s approval of Line 3 environmental impact statement: Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth bands filed an appeal of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the environmental impact statement for the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project. The tribes say the PUC erred when it concluded that the EIS adequately addressed negative impacts of the new pipeline, which the PUC approved in June. Source: wdio.com.
Homeless camp raises public health alarms: A growing homeless camp near the Little Earth neighborhood in Minneapolis has raised fears among health officials and American Indian leaders over lack of hygiene and reuse of needles. Used needles litter the site, which has seen cases of drug-resistant staph infections, hepatitis C, sexually transmitted illnesses, and scabies. James Cross, founder of Natives Against Heroin, said “This is a public health emergency. Nearly everyone here is sick — some of them seriously — and no one is getting treated.” Source: startribune.com.
Native nations call on Pope to renounce Doctrine of Discovery: Members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois held a conference in New York last month to discuss 500-year-old Vatican edicts known as “papal bulls” that gave explorers the right to claim lands for Christian monarchs. The conference at the Great Law of Peace Center outside Syracuse was attended by legal and civil rights experts as well as tribal leaders and members. Source: usnews.com.
Native group sues North Dakota for voter ID law: The Native American Rights Fund has taken North Dakota to court after a tough voter ID law was passed making it more difficult for tribal members to vote. The law was passed after Democrat Heidi Heitkamp narrowly defeated her rival in the race for a U.S. Senate seat in 2012. Heitkamp’s victory was attributed to Native American voters. Native American groups are fighting similar vote-suppression efforts in Arizona, Montana, and elsewhere. Source: voanews.com.
Native farm fund to distribute $266 million: A new philanthropic organization has been established to distribute $266 million after the U.S. government agreed that the Agriculture Department had discriminated against Native Americans in loan programs from 1981 to 1999. The grants will be for business assistance as well as educational and technical support. “This is a monumental day for Native American communities nationwide,” said lead counsel Joseph M. Sellers, who launched the case 19 years ago. “Today we bring a landmark legal case, and hopefully with it, a regrettable part of our nation’s history to a close.” Source: Washingtonpost.com.