Tuesday, February 9, 2010

St. Louis County Board Reconsiders Fond du Lac Land Sale

At their Committee of the Whole meeting held in Duluth on Tuesday, February 9th, the SLC Board again considered selling tax forfeit land back to the Fond du Lac Band.
Many of you may be aware, back in January of 2009 the Board discussed this issue at a “Board Workshop”. At that time a number of Commissioners indicated they would not support the sale. Additionally, comments were made suggesting lack of respect and understanding regarding American Indian people and tribal governments. Subsequent to this, the American Indian community joined with “We are Watching” folks to demonstrate their concern on the steps of the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth at a rally.

Commissioner Nelson indicated that this was not the case of the county “reversing its position” because the Board had not previously made any decision on this land sale. They had simply discussed the issue at Board workshop.

Emily Johnson, Bois Forte band member, addressed the Board indicated that she was glad they were considering the land sale. As a former staff member of the Congress of American Indians, she was concerned that St. Louis County was moving in the direction of the “Citizen Equal Rights Alliance”, (CERA) a nationwide group that historically has opposed any initiatives supported by Tribes.

Commissioner Fink indicated his concern about the loss of tax base in St. Louis County.

Commissioner Dahlberg indicated that he thinks this issue was “blown out of proportion” following the Board workshop. He is concerned about this “unique issue of the loss of the tax base”. He went on to say this issue is not unique to Tribes.
He stated that there was “no indication at that Board workshop that anyone was against this” land sale. A review of the audiotape from that workshop may indicate differently.

The resolution passed unanimously to sell the Brevator Township parcel to the FDL band and also the Stoney Brook Township parcel. This will now go to the SLC Board at their meeting on March 2, 2010.

Commissioner O'Neill indicated that this had taken over a year to resolve and he hopes in the future the Board would be able to resolve an issue such as this more quickly.