Next Council meeting set for October 6

In 2013, the Fond du Lac tribe received a $2.8 million grant from the Outdoor Heritage fund. Although it took two years of wrangling between the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Committee and legislators, the funding did set an encouraging precedent for the White Earth band to follow.

Early this year, the LSOHC recommendation to the Legislature included a similar White Earth proposal for buying land to put into trust for preservation. This time Rep. Dennis McNamara’s Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee shot it down. They deleted the White Earth proposal and adding all the $2,188,000 to the “shallow lakes and wetlands” section’s $2,130,000.

In August the White Earth band resubmitted its proposal, “Protecting Forest Wildlife Habitat in the Wild Rice River Watershed,” for the same $2,188,000.

Its funding request was heard by the LSOHC September 2, and will again come before the Council October 6. Council Chair Bob Anderson, Rep. Denny McNamara, and Ron Schara voted against funding. Eight other members voted to fund the proposal, but only three supported the full amount.

Opposition includes concern over loss of PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) of $12,000. Others were those upset over the prohibition of wolf hunting on tribal lands. House Speaker Kurt Daudt in March, said the debate is about more than loss of property taxes. “Turning land over to an Indian nation, everybody knows that’s the controversial part of it.”

As expected, opposition has also been characterized as coming from “individuals who harbor deep-seated prejudice against American Indians.”

Representative Denny McNamara, R-Hastings in September suggested using the concept in the proposal, but stripping it from the control of tribal sovereignty. He could see it working under a DNR wildlife or aquatic management area.