Gov. Dayton Aims to Improve Tribal Relationships

By KBJR News 1

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 8:27 PM CST

Cloquet, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- After a tense couple of years between the state of Minnesota and Tribal governments, Governor Mark Dayton is attempting to strengthen the relationship.

Locally, the bond between the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa and state lawmakers is strong. Tribal leaders and lawmakers have a successful working relationship.

"My relationship with the Fond du Lac has been absolutely terrific," said DFL Representative Mike Sundin, who represents the Fond du Lac community.

"Local legislators have been very cooperative with the band; they've been very open to issues that we see that need a legislative fix," said Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver, at her office Friday.

Tribal leaders and state lawmakers point to a project that proves the two governments can work together. Tucked away in a bonding bill is a plan that took the cooperation of state, local and tribal governments.

"The project is a $13 million sewer system, it's a pressurized sewer system that will serve the house and homes and businesses around Big Lake," said Rep. Sundin.

Now, Governor Mark Dayton is hoping to expand that local cooperation statewide.

He signed an executive order aiming to improve relationships with Minnesota's eleven tribal nations by consulting with Tribes on issues affecting American Indians and designating staff members to be points-of-contact on tribal issues.

"I think what's important is building the understanding."

Chairwoman Diver says if done correctly, the Governor's order could create more successful relationships throughout the state.

"Where we can find those points of mutual support, that's a win-win for all of our communities," said Diver.

The order will be effective later this month.

Zach Vavricka

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