There's been little coverage of the change in leadership of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, but council member Bob Anderson, appointed to the body by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), was elected chair at its meeting last week.
The choice likely signals a return to hostility toward applications for Heritage funds from Ojibwe bands, given some members' negative attitudes toward the bands' prohibition of wolf hunting. Gray wolves hold a special place in the bands' cultural belief systems, which position the animals as the indigenous people's brethren.
Many non-native hunters resented not being allowed to shoot wolves on native land. For the moment, it's an abstract discussion, since a federal judge's decision to close the hunt in the upper Great Lakes region.
Anderson most recently made his opinion clear at the December 11, 2014 meeting when he moved to strike funding that would allow the White Earth Band to acquire land along the Wild Rice River and its tributaries for wildlife habitat protection.
Even though the Council soundly defeated Anderson's motion in December, the notion has had a life of its own, as we reported back in our January post, Green amendment swipes Outdoor Heritage Fund proposal from White Earth Reservation:
Representative Steve Green (R-Fosston) is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, or Gaa-waabaabiganikaag Anishinaabeg, but he's having nothing to do with a proposal the nation submitted to the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The council that reviews and approves proposals included the nation's request in its recommendations to the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee today, but an amendment Green submitted removing the tribe's request passed on a roll call vote.
DFL Representative David Dill joined the Republican majority on the committee in voting down the proposal. . . .
Green's objections were not explicitly linked to the wolf hunt, but rather to a belief that the tribe doesn't pay enough taxes. (This claim had been vetted and rejected by the council, as one member notes in the December 11, 2014 tape).
The Legacy funding proposal came up in the House Legacy committee Monday, and an amendment was on the agenda to restore the funding, but the audio from that meeting has yet to be posted.
Bluestem believes that the election of Anderson as chair, was well as Speaker Daudt's appointment of Representative Dave Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) to replace South St. Paul DFLer Rick Hansen on the Council, signals a step backward for funding native projects. The Pioneer Press's Dave Orrick reported in New Lessard-Sams outdoor council set, and ready to disburse $100M:
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake: Dill comes to the council amid a predictable fracas of finger-pointing. Daudt appointed Dill instead of Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul. Hansen and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, both objected publicly, accusing Daudt reneging on a pledge of bi-partisan cooperation. Daudt hasn't responded, but the deed is done. Some areas to watch for possible contrast between Dill and Hansen: Whether Indian projects should be funded, how invasive species work should be viewed by the council, and whether any money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund should be spent to reimburse local governments for lost property tax revenues when land is purchased for protection. More on that below. Daudt also re-appointed Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings.
We'll see how this cultural conflict works out.
Photo: Canoes and wild rice. The White Earth project will also help preserve water quality necessary for wild rice.
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