Judge Opposes New Line 3 Corridor: Administrative Law Judge Ann O'Reilly, in a 434-page report released April 23, said the Line 3 replacement should be approved, but not in the new corridor proposed by Enbridge Energy. The new corridor passes through watersheds in the District II area that are home to productive wild rice habitat used by Mille Lacs Band members. The old corridor passes through Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations. The Leech Lake Band opposes the placement of the new line in the old corridor. In June, the Public Utilities Commission will make the final decision on the certificate of need and the route permit. Source: mprnews.org.
Wild Rice Debate Heats Up at Minnesota Legislature: Environmental groups, tribal organizations, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) want to preserve a longstanding rule on sulfate discharges aimed at protecting wild rice waters from sulfate pollution, but Republicans and Iron Range Democrats are working to nullify the rule. The MPCA says nullifying the rule would violate federal law and allow cities and businesses to avoid new water treatment upgrades. Source: mprnews.org.
Local Birch Bark Artist Honored: A national not-for-profit, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), has recognized eight artists from six states as the 2018 NACF Mentor Artist Fellows in Contemporary Visual Arts and Traditional Arts. This fellowship recognizes established American Indian and Alaska Native artists of 10 years or more who wish to mentor an American Indian or Alaska Native emerging artist apprentice for one year, strengthening the artistic skill and evolution of creativity among Native artists. Among the recipients is Mille Lacs Band descendant and Red Cliff member Pat Kruse, a birch bark artist. Source: nativeartsandcultures.org.
Legislature Considers Task Force to Study Violence against Native Women: A bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, would create a task force to address Minnesota's missing and murdered Indigenous women. Data from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women show that 9 percent of homicide victims during the years 2013 to 2016 were Native American, who make up about 1 percent of the state population. The task force would be required to give an annual report to the Legislature on causes of violence, how to track and collect data, and the best ways to help. The bill will be included in the House's public safety omnibus bill. Source: inforum.com.
Enbridge-Friendly Bill Voted Down: The Public Utilities Commission will decide in June whether to approve Enbridge Energy's proposal to replace its Line 3 crude oil pipeline with a new line bringing oil from Canada’s tar sands across northern Minnesota. A bill to terminate the PUC's role and give Enbridge a green light passed one House committee but failed by a 5-4 vote in the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance Policy Committee. Gov. Dayton threatened a veto. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, said, "I am not willing to wait any longer for any roadblocks. We have got to get this done." Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said the proposed legislation would allow Enbridge, "at its sole discretion, to do whatever it wants." Source: startribune.com.
National News Briefs
Indian Country Champion Passes On: The National Indian Gaming Association mourned the passing on April 6 of a beloved defender of tribal sovereignty, Senator Daniel K. Akaka. Akaka served as Hawaii’s Senator from 1990 until his retirement in 2013 and was the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Akaka chaired Indian Affairs and was known as a champion for Native American issues, including the General Welfare Act, Indian Health Care Act, and tribal government contracting. NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens stated: “Senator Akaka was a great friend of mine and was beloved by Indian Country. His years of service along with Senator Inouye provided a bulwark of support for Tribal Nations. Senator Akaka was a true warrior and patriot for this country, and a determined advocate for Tribal Nations. During this time of celebration of his life, NIGA stands with the Senator’s family as he walks into the spirit world. We will miss you, Senator Akaka.” Source: pechanga.net.
Offensive Monuments Poised to Fall: First it was monuments to the Confederacy; now, monuments offensive to Native Americans are being taken down. In February, San Francisco officials said they planned to remove a monument depicting a defeated Native American at the feet of a Spanish missionary. In March, the San Jose City Council took down a statue of Christopher Columbus. Kalamazoo, Michigan, said last month it would take down a park monument of a Native American in a headdress kneeling before a westward-facing pioneer. In Baltimore, a city councilman has vowed to replace a smashed Columbus monument with something that better reflects current values. But what if the offensive figure is a former president? The city of Arcata, California, is taking things a step further by considering removal of a bust of President William McKinley for “directing the slaughter of Native peoples in the U.S. and abroad.” Source: latimes.com.
Democrats Block Discussion of Sovereignty Bill: A bill that came before the Senate April 16 would have recognized that tribal governments have the same authority as other governments over organized labor, but Democrats in the Senate, presumably following the wishes of unions, prevented its passage. The issue dates to 2004 when the National Labor Relations Board asserted jurisdiction over tribal enterprises, including casinos. Republicans pushed hard for the legislation, seeking an opportunity for a victory over unions while coming across as more friendly to tribes than the Democrats. Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico criticized Republicans for pushing the partisan bill while failing to act on other issues of interest to tribes, like housing, health, and education. Source: indiancountrymedianetwork.com.
Tribes Find New Ways to Fight Sex Trafficking: Tribes from Minnesota and other states are working to combat sex trafficking in Indian Country after the federal Department of Justice came under fire for its failure to collect data about this activity. Fond du Lac Band interim Police Chief Mike Diver and fellow officer Kelly Haffield presented information at the conference in Palm Springs, California, about the new Minnesota tribal sex trafficking coalition, Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST), comprised of representatives from the 11 Minnesota tribes. Source: rewire.news.