Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We are Watching Speaks to County Board on Fond du Lac Land Sale

The following was presented to the St. Louis County Board at their meeting on March 2, 2010 by Kevin Skwira-Brown, WAW Spokesperson:

Chair Rauker, Commissioners, My name is Kevin Skwira-Brown and I live in Duluth.

I speak today as a spokesperson for the We Are Watching Campaign which works to bring transparency and accountability to the St. Louis County Board.

We Are Watching is pleased that this Board appears posed to approve the long requested
land sales to the FDL Band. While the final outcome today is likely to reflect recognition of the Rights of the FDL Band to buy back land which was in many cases unethically taken from them by whites over the years, there is still a matter of transparency and accountability.

Full recognition of the FDL Band’s rights includes not only the option to exercise the right of first refusal for Tax-Forfeiture lands sold within the reservation boundaries, but also the federally supported transfer of eligible land by the FDL Band into Federal Trust status. This is something Commissioner Fink has opposed. Further it is important to note that these land sales were delayed during the entirety of Commissioner Fink’s tenure as the Board Chair. And, on February 9th at the Committee of the Whole meeting when these land sales came before you under the committee that Commissioner Fink chairs, he refused to bring the items to the floor for discussion or move them for approval.

It would appear that Commissioner Fink either believes his constituents support the continued oppression of Indigenous peoples by denying them their full rights or perhaps that Commissioner Fink is acting out the agenda of those well beyond the borders of SLC that aim to limit the recognition and self-determination of Indigenous people. He can now rightly claim that this land sale didn’t go forward during his tenure as Chair, and that he never forwarded a motion that recognized the rights of Tribes to own Reservation land. It should be noted that with this being an election year for the seat which Commissioner Fink holds, Commissioner, or perhaps candidate Fink, chose not vote against these land sales in the Committee of the Whole.

To those of you whose vote for these land sales reflects genuine recognition of the FDL Band’s right to self-determination and preservation of their people’s way of life as guaranteed through multiple treaties, thank you for acting with justice, an approach which is in the best interest of all of the people of SLC.
Thank you,