Pat, who is going on 107 years old, says she was surprised that her difficulty breathing was caused by a heart problem, not her lungs.
Lana speaks about the feeling of receiving a prayer when she smokes her traditional tobacco as part of ceremony.
After more than a year of negotiations, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe leaders and Mille Lacs County Administrators seem no closer to solving a policing problem in the County. Reporter Melissa Townsend has the latest details.
HOST: After more than a year of negotiations, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe leaders and Mille Lacs County Administrators are no closer to solving a public safety problem in the County.
Reporter Melissa Townsend has the details.
REPORTER: For nearly 25 years Mille Lacs Band law enforcement worked in cooperation with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Department.
Their formal cooperative agreement is needed for the tribal police to HAVE AUTHORITY in the counties around the reservation.
Hamline-Mitchell Tribal Law Attorney Colette Routel explains.
ROUTEL: If there is a cooperative agreement in place with the county, tribal police officer can investigate the crime, pull the person over, detain them, get the information they need - if it turns out the tribe doesn’t have jurisdiction, he will turn them over to the state or county. (:19)
But in 2016 - Mille Lacs County officials pulled OUT of the cooperative law enforcement agreement with the tribe.
That had a dramatic impact on tribal police powers.
ROUTEL: So for example if they see drug activity and the individual is obviously not Native, they can’t do anything about it. They can call the county and maybe the county would show up in time, but they don’t have any authority anymore. (:19)
Without cooperation there are fewer Native police working to curb the current opioid drug crisis.
ROUTEL: The county was essentially using the 30-40 tribal police officers to be first people on the scene. Well the agreement goes away, and they quote unquote lose those tribal police officers and they added maybe 5 or 6 of their own. (:14)
At the heart of the conflict is an old dispute over the reservation boundaries.
The 1855 treaty that established the Mille Lacs reservation set aside 61-thousand acres for the Band.
Mille Lacs County AND the the state of Minnesota - for that matter - reject the 1855 treaty boundary.
They say the reservation consists of only the few thousand acres that are held in federal trust.
For decades the Band and the county have agreed to disagree so they could work together to police the region.
That all changed in 2016.
That’s when the Band successfully requested the U-S Justice Department assist in prosecuting major crimes on the reservation.
Now, certain crimes committed on the 61-thousand acres will be prosecuted in federal court instead of county and state courts.
The Tribe’s Solicitor General Todd Matha says it will help fight crime.
MATHA: In certain circumstances the criminal penalties would be much greater than what you be able to get in one of those other jurisdictions. (:08)
Those penalties could apply to Native and non-Natives.
That concerns Mille Lacs county Administrators.
In a 2016 statement, Mille Lacs County Administrator Pat Oman wrote:
“If the 61,000 acre reservation boundary was conclusively established, it is likely that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe would claim the authority to assert jurisdiction over all of the reservation, including non-Band members. …”
But Indian Law Attorney Colette Routel says it would NOT likely impact the jurisdiction of tribal police.
ROUTEL: The Supreme Court has really narrowed the ability of the tribe to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians.(:06)
But county administers are still concerned about the tribe expanding its authority in the region.
Last month - In an effort to end the stalemate - Governor Dayton laid down an ultimatum:
either the county and Band hammer out a new cooperative agreement or the state would step in and make their own agreement with Mille Lacs.
The tribe’s Solicitor General Todd Matha says Band leaders would welcome an agreement with the state.
MATHA: They could be acting under the guise of the state patrol and therefore there would no longer be that concern as to them being able to assist. (:10)
But the Governor backed away from his threat after talking with Mille Lacs County officials.
DAYTON: You know I have no power of enforcement to require the county to do anything so I use my best forces of persuasion. (:14)
Mille Lacs Solicitor General Matha says he is not optimistic about reopening negotiations with the county.
MATHA: Unless the county were to provide some glimmer of hope that there’s anything that can be accomplished by that… there’s just no reason to believe that anything fruitful would come from that. (:16)
Mille Lacs Band and county officials could look to the west to find a path forward.
15 years ago the White Earth tribal police were in the same kind of dispute with Mahnomen and Becker County law enforcement.
Tribal, county and federal officials met for nearly 2 years to hammer out protocols in their cooperative law enforcement agreement.
The same kind of negotiations could happen at Mille Lacs, but the boundary dispute seems to have them dug in.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.