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Minnesota’s tribal:

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    A university that was founded on tribal land and has a history of injustices against Native Americans is now finding ways to reckon with that past.  Tadd Johnson has been the face of that work. A member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Johnson was the University of Minnesota’s first senior director of tribal relations and this year became the first Native member of the Board or Regents.  Years before Johnson became senior director of tribal relations in 2019, he  worked on addressing the Native community’s mistrust of the university. In taking on that role, the university and tribal nations began meeting regularly, at least three times a year – something that hadn’t been done in the U’s history, Johnson said.  The history between the university and tribal nations is complex and riddled with occurrences of inequity and injustices, according to the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.  Article continues after advertisement Johnson, who has worked with both the affairs council and the university, said the university’s founding is a big contributor to the Native community’s mistrust of the university today. ...
    State Rep. Zack Stephenson was optimistic as he unveiled a bill to bring sports betting to Minnesota. In the four years since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to offer such gambling, he’d managed to move a majority of the state’s federally recognized tribal governments from ‘heck no’ to ‘maybe yes.’ MinnPost photo by Peter CallaghanState Rep. Zack StephensonIt was a big deal.  The tribes don’t have legal exclusivity over gambling in the state but they have political clout. DFL Gov. Tim Walz and DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman had no interest in betting bills without tribal sign-off. Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said he reached an agreement with tribal leaders across the state first by respecting their sovereignty and then by abiding by a fundamental tenet of the tribal position on gambling. His bill would give the tribes control over the new-to-Minnesota form of gambling, excluding non-tribal players such as race tracks from sponsoring betting. Article continues after advertisement Having the tribes on board – something that was strengthened by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association’s endorsement of Stephenson’s...
    ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A lead lawmaker in the Minnesota House expressed confidence that his proposal to legalize sports gambling in-person at the state’s casinos and online will pass this year and get the necessary support from tribal nations, key stakeholders that have pushed back on the idea before. The legislation would form new gaming compacts with the tribes — in addition to the current gaming compact — which would operate mobile versions in partnership with commercial operators, said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. They would keep the revenues from the bets placed at their brick-and-mortar casinos, but the state would tax a slice of net profits from online wagers made statewide. READ MORE: Minneapolis Teachers Will Strike Tuesday“As someone who would not bring a bill forward if we didn’t think we had a path to tribal support, I feel very comfortable standing before you today with the bill,” said Stephenson, who chairs of the commerce committee. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents 10 tribal nations, said it supports the state’s efforts to legalize sports betting and...
    Rep. Zack Stephenson wasn’t much of a gambler before he decided to become one of the Minnesota Legislature’s experts on sports betting. Other than playing fantasy football, the Coon Rapids DFLer said he hadn’t bet on sports until a recent visit to Iowa. So he can be forgiven for avoiding sports cliches and gambling terms to describe what he thinks the, ahhh, odds are for Minnesota joining the 26 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted some form of legalized betting on college and professional sports. “I don’t have a bill yet,” Stephenson, who chairs the House Commerce Committee, said Friday. “But I think we’re getting close. I’m hoping to have something more concrete to talk about in the very near future.” A year ago, Stephenson said his committee was too busy with the state budget and with the response to the COVID pandemic to take up the issue. At the time, the committee also heard and passed a recreational marijuana bill.  Article continues after advertisement Since then, however, he said he has met with all 11 recognized...
    HERTEL, Wis. (WCCO) — Leaders of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin say sports gambling will add a new dynamic to what their casinos can offer — and will hopefully be ready by Super Bowl Sunday. On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced he has paired with the tribe to approve wagering on professional sporting events at St. Croix-operated casinos throughout the state. READ MORE: Man Gets Probation For Punching Trooper Who Responded To Drunken Driving CrashIn Turtle Lake, just a 90-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis, tribal leaders understand the importance of location. “When we look at sports betting, we want to pull from other states,” said Chairman Bill Reynolds. “Minnesota is a great state to pull from. They’re right next door.” Reynolds says expanding into the realm of sports wagering is something the St. Croix have wanted to do for years, but the timing was right in the partnership with Gov. Evers. “This just happened to fall in our lap,” Reynolds said. Now, he says the focus is on building a one-of-a-kind sports book at the Turtle Lake...
    Red Lake Nation College, a tribal college in northern Minnesota, has plans to expand the college with a Minneapolis campus.  Established in 2001 with a main building on the southern shore of Lower Red Lake, the school is a two-year tribal college, specializing in culturally specific academics and providing what Red Lake Nation College President Dan King calls a “hugely important” role in advancing the education and careers of Native people.  The college’s future Minneapolis campus will be three buildings, located at 900, 910, and 912 3rd Street South, parcels that include the old Tiger Oak Media building near the light rail and across the street from U.S. Bank Stadium.  Last week, the Minneapolis Planning Commission approved site plans for the future campus, which will feature classrooms, training spaces, student services, office space and other student facilities. The estimated cost of the expansion is $10 million, and RLNC says classes in the new facilities are slated to begin in fall 2023. Article continues after advertisement The mission for the planned Minneapolis campus is to provide the same Native-centric education in...
    ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — More electric vehicles will be showing up on Minnesota roads, thanks to a new plan from a Native-led nonprofit. Just as the Line 3 oil pipeline comes online, a different type of corridor is emerging. It’s creating an electric link between Minnesota’s tribal nations, and hubs like the Twin Cities and Duluth. READ MORE: Driverless, Electric Shuttles Hit The Streets In Downtown RochesterRobert Blake is executive director of Native Sun, the Twin Cities environmental justice nonprofit leading the project. “We decided, you know, hey listen, how about that we go ahead and build an electric vehicle charging pipeline?’” Blake said. He’s also part of the Red Lake Tribal Nation, and actively pushed back against Line 3 “This is very personal to me,” Blake said. “This is another form of resistance.” The more than $6.5 million in funding will go towards building more than 120 charging stations, and it will also be used to purchase at least 19 electric vehicles that will be used by tribal schools governments and businesses. And there will be an education...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan held a ceremonial bill signing Monday with tribal leaders and state lawmakers in honor of a bill affirming Minnesota’s relationship with tribal governments. “We are working every day to ensure that state government works in a different, better way. A way that understands and honors tribal sovereignty. A way that allows more consistent and productive coordination and communication between state agencies and tribal nations,” the governor said, in a statement. The bill codifies government-to-government relations, affirming tribal sovereignty, requiring state agencies to have tribal-state liaisons, and mandating tribal-state relations for state leaders and employees. “For far too long, state government has not worked with or for Native people,” said Flanagan, in a statement. “The Governor and I are committed to changing that, for the long term. I am filled with gratitude for the friendship and partnership – from tribal leaders, from legislators, and from community voices – that got this bill across the finish line and into state law. Today is a historic, important step for...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan held a ceremonial bill signing Monday with tribal leaders and state lawmakers in honor of a bill affirming Minnesota’s relationship with tribal governments. “We are working every day to ensure that state government works in a different, better way. A way that understands and honors tribal sovereignty. A way that allows more consistent and productive coordination and communication between state agencies and tribal nations,” the governor said, in a statement. The bill codifies government-to-government relations, affirming tribal sovereignty, requiring state agencies to have tribal-state liaisons, and mandating tribal-state relations for state leaders and employees. “For far too long, state government has not worked with or for Native people,” said Flanagan, in a statement. “The Governor and I are committed to changing that, for the long term. I am filled with gratitude for the friendship and partnership – from tribal leaders, from legislators, and from community voices – that got this bill across the finish line and into state law. Today is a historic, important step for...
                      by Scott McClallen  Surrounded by states that have legalized sports betting, some Minnesota lawmakers will push to create additional tax revenue and entertainment next session. Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, held a press conference to announce his plan to pursue legalized sports betting. “Minnesotans deserve the chance to engage in safe and legal sports betting right here in Minnesota,” Stephenson said. “That is why I am announcing I will lead an effort to legalize sports betting during the next regular session of the Legislature.” North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois have legalized online or retail sports betting. Since the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on state authorization of sports betting in 2018, 29 states and Washington D.C. offer sports betting. Three others have legalized it but are not operating yet. “I have heard from Minnesotans across the state who are interested in having the same opportunities that our neighbors have,” Stephenson added. “This will be the most significant change to Minnesota’s gaming laws in many years....
    For his first nine months as chair of the Minnesota House Commerce Committee, Rep. Zack Stephenson wouldn’t even hold hearings on bills to change state liquor laws or add the state to the growing list of those with legal sports betting. He was too busy, he said, drafting his chunk of the two-year state budget and moving a bill to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana. But now, over two weeks’ time, the Coon Rapids DFLer has heard more than two-dozen bills to liberalize liquor regulation and on Tuesday, he announced that he would be the lead sponsor of a sports betting bill that, if adopted, would make Minnesota the 33rd state to legalize betting on games since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated a federal law banning it from all but a few states. “Minnesotans should be able to engage in legal sports betting right here in Minnesota,” Stephenson said.  What that legislation will look like isn’t yet known; Stephenson has no bill drafted and said he will hold hearings and talk to interested parties about language before...
    NORTHWOOD, Iowa (WCCO) — If you want to legally put money on your favorite Minnesota sports teams, your best bet is to drive down I-35 to Iowa. But some state lawmakers hope next session they will turn hopes of legal sports gambling in Minnesota into reality, too. READ MORE: 'This One I'll Remember The Rest Of My Life': Twin Cities Officer Breaks Up Dueling Eagles“Minnesota shouldn’t be an island, one of an ever-shrinking number of states that doesn’t allow sports betting. It should be legal,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. Stephenson, chair of the House Commerce Committee, held a news conference Wednesday pledging to put forward a yet-to-be-written bill in the House next year for the legislature to consider. So far 29 states and the District of Columbia have legal and functional sports gambling and three more states have approved it, though the program is not yet operational. What types of bets are permissible varies. All neighboring states to Minnesota—Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin—have legalized it in some form. “You work hard...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota announced Monday an expansion of Native American student tuition support, part of what they are calling the nation’s most comprehensive free and reduced tuition programs for Native American students. Beginning in fall 2022, the university will provide free or reduced tuition on any of its five campuses statewide to first-year undergrad students and Tribal college transfer students, who are also enrolled citizens, in one of the state’s 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations. READ MORE: 6 Minnesota Companies Named Finalists For National ‘Good Food Awards’“We have been very honest from my first days as president that we need to better serve citizens of our Tribal Nations and their communities,” said University President Joan Gabel. “This program is a meaningful step to increasing access and continuing to improve retention and graduation rates while closing opportunity gaps.” According to the release, “the program will provide a scholarship covering full tuition cost at the the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester or Twin Cities campus for first-year or Tribal college transfer undergraduate students with an annual family income under $75,000.” Students...
    RED LAKE, Minn. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a Minnesota man on charges of murder and other counts in the July killing of a Red Lake tribal officer who was fatally shot while responding to a call on the tribe’s reservation. David Donnell Jr., 28, was indicted on 11 counts, including first-degree murder and multiple counts of assault with intent to murder, prosecutors announced Thursday. He had previously been charged in federal court with a lesser murder count in connection with the death of Officer Ryan Bialke. Bialke was killed on July 27 after he and four other officers went to Donnell’s home in Redby on a report of a suicidal male with children possibly in the residence, according to the Red Lake Department of Public Safety. Federal authorities say Donnell was standing on the porch when officers arrived, then went inside the house. Because Donnell refused to comply with orders from the officers and had an active warrant, police broke down the front door, Department of Justice officials said. That’s when Donnell began firing. Bialke,...
    The Grand Portage National Monument in far northeastern Minnesota was established in 1960, after the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) ceded nearly 710 acres of their land to the US government. A unit of the National Park Service (NPS), it consists of the eight-and-a-half-mile Grand Portage trail and two trading depot sites—one on the shoreline of Lake Superior and one inland, at Pigeon River. A partially reconstructed depot sits at the Lake Superior site. The Grand Portage is an ancient overland trail used by Indigenous peoples since at least the start of the first millennium CE. By the middle of the eighteenth century, European fur traders used it and depots at either end to transport people, supplies, and trade goods between the Great Lakes and inland waterways. They abandoned the area in the early nineteenth century. Ojibwe people, however, continued to reside on and near the Grand Portage reservation, which was formed after the ratification of the Treaty of La Pointe in 1854. The site was largely forgotten by white Minnesotans until the 1920s, when interest in...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A large crowd of protesters brought their message against an oil pipeline to the Minnesota State Capitol Wednesday. The group is against Enbridge Energy’s new oil pipeline that cuts across Minnesota from South Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. The Minnesota Supreme Court this week refused to hear an appeal by opponents of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. That means a decision regulators made earlier this summer to let construction proceed will stand. Protesters set out signs and even built a small village on the capitol grounds, but were kept some distance from the building itself because of a new fence surrounding the Capitol. A similar one stood for a year from May 2020 until just two months ago. Law enforcement officials cited the many events scheduled on the capitol grounds this week — including the rally against the pipeline — in its decision to beef up security and fortify the building. Organizers of Wednesday’s event say it’s disappointing, and that they have a permit to be there. “This is our house, all of our houses. We belong here,” event...
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The state of Minnesota has gone to federal court to block a lawsuit over Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline project from proceeding in tribal court. The novel case names Manoomin — the Ojibwe word for wild rice — as the lead plaintiff. Wild rice is sacred in Ojibwe culture and a traditional source of food. The lawsuit, which was filed two weeks ago in the White Earth Band’s tribal court, is the first “rights of nature” enforcement case brought in a U.S. tribal court and the second such case to be filed in any U.S. court. The first was a Florida waterways case filed in April, according to the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court on Thursday to quash the wild rice lawsuit, the Star Tribune reported Friday. The state agency said the tribal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case because the DNR and its employees named in the lawsuit are not members of the White Earth Band, and it...
    (This story was originally published on July 20) MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Seven women were arrested on Monday afternoon while protesting the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Wadena County. One of the women arrested was Winona LaDuke, Indigenous leader and founder of environmental group Honor the Earth, who has been standing against the construction of the replacement pipeline for eight years. Winona LaDuke (Credit: Wadena County Sheriff’s Office) The seven women all face trespassing charges; arraignments started on Tuesday morning. Honor the Earth says that the “charge of the colonial world is in conflict with the Anishinaabeg,” citing a 2019 White Earth Nation tribal law which requires the White Earth Nation to stand up for and protect the rights of wild rice and other sacred food. On Wednesday evening, the group Stop Line 3 said that the Wadena County Jail has not yet released LaDuke. The group is calling for Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington to release her, as well as “fair and just treatment of all water protectors.” RELATED: ‘They’re Shoving A Pipe Down Our Throat’: Inside Winona LaDuke’s Fight...
    Tribal council representatives and members of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe will be gathering at the Minnesota Capitol today to request a “nation-to nation” dialogue with Gov. Tim Walz and President Joe Biden in an effort to stop construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. Last Friday, leaders of the tribe gathered in a press conference to raise concerns about the pipeline’s effects on surrounding resources and waters, most notably the treaty-protected wild rice, and said continued efforts to build the pipeline was in violation of the tribe’s treaty rights. As the pipeline nears completion, with the project estimated to be 60% finished as of June, opponents of the pipeline have been advocating for upholding treaty rights as a means to try to halt construction. Screen shotThe White Earth Reservation Business Committee addressed the public during a July 9 press conference.The White Earth Band is currently suing in federal court, arguing the Army Corps of Engineers can’t issue a permit without tribal approval. Another lawsuit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) over a water crossing permit is in the...
    A bitter winter delayed work on replacing part of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline that has brought oil from Canada through Minnesota since the 1960s. But protesters, including Native Americans, are seeking to shut down the project citing Joe Biden’s war on fossil fuels and an ancient prophecy. CNN reported on what the media outlet said is a growing protest:  Though they failed to stop the oil now flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, maybe this was a sign Biden would take their side in the David versus Goliath fight to stop Line 3. And maybe people would finally heed an ancient warning known as The Seven Fires Prophecy. In Ojibwe tribal lore, an environmental moment of reckoning was predicted in the time of the Seventh Fire, when “the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads,” one green and lush, the other black and charred. A wrong choice, it was warned, would “cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people.” The Ojibwe are of the largest groups of Native Americans north of Mexico with tribal...
    Palisade, Minnesota (CNN)In the north woods of Minnesota, the mighty Mississippi River looks like a frozen creek. After a bitter February, you can stroll across it with more fear of windburn than thin ice. And if you stroll one particular spot near Palisade, you'll find giant pipe, heavy machines and competing signs. A few read "No trespassing" in block letters. The rest say "Water is life" and "Stop Line 3" in hand-painted colors. It is the latest front in the pipeline wars. An anti-trespass notice is surrounded by signs protesting the construction on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline. Originally built in the 1960s, the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline snakes 1,097 miles from the tar sands of Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Of the roughly 340 miles through Minnesota, the replacement pipeline includes new sections and added capacity and is cutting through some of the most pristine woods and wetlands in North America. In little camps along the way, a small-but-growing group of protesters is out to stop them, driven by ancient prophesy and the promises of...
    MAHNOMEN, Minn. (AP) — The only Minnesota county located entirely within the borders of a Native American reservation has been vaccinating at rates that far surpass most other counties in the state, authorities said. Mahnomen County is located in the northwestern part of the state, about an hour's drive from the Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota metropolitan area. As of this past week, 85 percent of people 65 and older in the county have been vaccinated. Public health leaders at the White Earth Nation and Mahnomen County credit that high vaccination rate to close collaboration between the tribe and the county to efficiently get those doses to residents, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. The White Earth Reservation is a patchwork of tribal and private land — and the people who live there are a nearly equal mix of Native Americans and non-Native people. Since White Earth is a sovereign nation, it has the authority to set its own parameters for who is eligible to be vaccinated. The tribe decided that everyone in the county should qualify. “Vaccine wasn’t limited...
    Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the spring of 2018 that cleared the way for states to legalize sports gambling, 25 of them and the District of Columbia have done so. Minnesota isn’t one of them. This year, another half dozen are seriously considering some form of legalized sports betting, including New York and Texas. Minnesota isn’t one of them. That doesn’t mean supporters of legalized sports betting aren’t trying. They’re just not sure there’s much chance. “I love Minnesota. I’ve lived here my whole life. I just don’t know why we have to be the 45th or 46th state to do everything,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, who has sponsored several bills to legalize sports betting since the court ruling. “Our government can’t do anything quickly. We couldn’t get rid of regulation for 3.2 beer. We just recently allowed Sunday liquor sales. It’s a perpetual unwillingness to let adults act like adults.” Article continues after advertisement Attempts to legalize and regulate sports betting have not only failed in the Minnesota Legislature, they haven’t even gotten...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tribal and county officials in northern Minnesota say a 10-year-old girl reported missing has been found safe and reunited with family. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Leech Lake Tribal Police said that Miikawaadizi “Mika” Whitefeather was located safe Tuesday morning and reunited with her family. On Monday, a missing person alert was issued for the girl statewide after she was reported missing from the Cass Lake area over the weekend.
    CASS LAKE, Minn. (AP) — A bill passed by Congress and headed to President Donald Trump's desk will return nearly 12,000 acres of land in the Chippewa National Forest to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The government illegally seized the land from the tribe more than 70 years ago. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum sponsored the legislation in the House. “It’s an acknowledgment that what the federal government did to the Leech Lake Band was wrong. This is a wrong, and this is an opportunity to right that wrong,” she said. The band's original reservation covered nearly 600,000 acres in northern Minnesota, but federal policies passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s took about 530,000 acres out of trust status without the consent of the tribe, the Star Tribune reported. Tribal Council member LeRoy Staples Fairbanks says compromises were made to get the bill through Congress, but he said the process made tribal governments more visible in the region and state. “If you’re thinking about the pendulum of treaties and reservations, you’re starting to rebuild and legitimize tribal governments...
    By FRANK JOSSI of Energy News Network. ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Red Lake Nation is betting big on solar energy. The Chippewa Indian reservation in northern Minnesota will soon be home to one of the region’s largest solar arrays, a 240-kilowatt installation atop a workforce training center that will generate about half the building’s electricity needs. The real power, though, could be in the emerging model to use solar, microgrids, and a tribal-run utility as a path to energy sovereignty. “We have to prove that we can do this and we have to do this not only for ourselves but for other tribal nations,” said Red Lake member Bob Blake, the founder and owner of Solar Bear installation company. The workforce training center solar array is the second of 12 solar projects planned for the reservation. The first sits not far away atop the Red Lake Government Center, a building distinguished by incorporating a two-story face of an eagle with wings spread across the façade. The projects are the first two solar installations in Minnesota to be financed...
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