From the Chairman
by Mark Rotz
There sure has been a great deal of activity related to "Indian" issues this summer. The end of the Mille Lacs Treaty case here in Minnesota has only led to more attempts by the Mille Lacs Band to expand their power. Actually, these moves have been well under way for the past ten years, but are only now coming to the forground of public consciousness. Attempts to resurrect a long-since-disestablished Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, a joint sewer and water project with the tribe for citizens of the West shore of Lake Mille Lacs, and an "agreement" between the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Mille Lacs Band that raises questions about who has primary jurisdiction and responsibility for enforcing regulations on things like sewer systems in a three township area outside the Bands reservation boundaries, are some of the examples of what the representatives of the Mille Lacs Band must have meant when they stated before a state legislative hearing that after the 1837 Treaty lawsuit they would pursue the 1855 treaty and it was "going to be a lot worse." It must be what former Mille Lacs Band Chairman Art Gahbow meant when he said "One way or the other, we will take it back." It seems that all across the country, Indian tribal governments are pushing the envelope. We mentioned many instances in our last issue, everywhere from Montana to New York and there's more in this issue.
The question is, what can be done to counter this agenda? It does seem overwhelming and unstoppable, but believe it or not, we are beginning to make this an issue for public debate. What we all need to do is renew our commitment to PERM and become more educated as individuals. We need to help inform our friends and co-workers when ever the chance arises. Of course, everone must learn the positions of those seeking public office and of their political parties. Then we must vote accordingly and hold our elected officials accountable. We need to write our county commissioners, state legislators, our governor and attorney general, and our congressmen and president. Hundreds of names on a petition do not have the impact that one letter from a concerned constituent has. Please take the time to thank those in office who support our position, and reprimand those who oppose us.
The bottom line is, this agenda has been building for a long time and we must become involved to stop it. Remember, it's our country they are talking about dividing into hundreds of small sovereign ethnic enclaves. It's our Constitution they are trampling on with a blatant assault on the Fourteenth Amendment. A lot is at stake including management of our public natural resources.
The ideals that have made this the greatest country in the world are being eroded. Individual liberty, governmental power derived from the consent of the governed, and equal rights are being exchanged for group rights and governmental powers invented and extended beyond constitutional bounds. If you abandon the principles of individual rights and opt for group rights, you can never again have true equality. The concept of group rights has led to what seems to be an endless stream of new "rights" every day, depending on what class the government has determined you to belong to. True rights are not granted by government, but belong to every human being and are God-given rights. We believe that all men are created equal with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You can not give rights to one group of people without destroying the rights of those who do not belong. You create a segregated society in a constant power struggle to obtain the most "rights". Equality is forever gone. That's why most people feel deep in their hearts that special hunting and fishing rights are wrong. The one thing that has bound this nation of diverse backgrounds together as a country ceases to exist and we head ever closer to ethnic warfare as seen most recently in the Balkans and in Indonesia.
Finally, we must remember not to blame this state of affairs on the Indian people. They are most certainly the biggest casualties in this struggle for group rights. Many agree that the only avenue for improving the plight of Indian people is true equality. Equal treatment and a fair chance.
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Please check out our schedule of events later in this issue. Deer Hunters, you don't want to miss our annual dinner the Friday night before the Minnesota firearms deer season opener. Why bother cooking a big meal at deer camp when you can stop by Smokin' Hill and treat yourselves to a fabulous feast, and have a chance to win some great prizes. Who knows, you might even win that new rifle you wanted to buy so badly.
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You folks in Brainerd, we didn't forget you this summer, we just had a little scheduling difficulty, and our annual Brainerd Fundraiser will be held on December 4, 1999 at the Old Waterfall on highway 371 in Brainerd. More details can be found on page 8.