Mille Lacs Ojibwe fighting violent offenders with banishment

Native Mob gang terrorizing Minnesota reservation

Mille Lacs Ojibwe fighting violent offenders with banishment
Mike Kooiman

Storm clouds rolled in over the Mille Lacs Indian reservation just as Julian Koslowski and two other members of the search party reached the wastewater treatment plant.

Around the corner from the facility, Koslowski noticed two paths where a patch of tall grass had been flattened. One was thin, just the size a person would make by trudging through the unkempt lot. But the other was much wider, "like something had been dragged there." He also noticed tire tracks in the dirt, fading as the rain poured down from the black sky.

"It smells like something's dead back there," Koslowski called out to the others.

Right: Cody St. John still picks gravel out of the scars inflicted on a subzero night in 2006
courtesy of Jeff Anderson & Associates
Right: Cody St. John still picks gravel out of the scars inflicted on a subzero night in 2006
A civilian search party found William Nickaboine's remains hidden behind the wastewater plant last summer
Mille Lacs Band
A civilian search party found William Nickaboine's remains hidden behind the wastewater plant last summer
Keith Reynolds was ordered to pay $4.2 million for his part in beating Cody St. John
courtesy of Mille Lacs Messnger
Keith Reynolds was ordered to pay $4.2 million for his part in beating Cody St. John
The reservation has become a dangerous place for residents like Marlene Poukka (top) and Irene Benjamin
Andy Mannix
The reservation has become a dangerous place for residents like Marlene Poukka (top) and Irene Benjamin
Benjamin Garbow, Patrick Provo Jr., and Zachary Nayquonabe were among the first to qualify for banishment
courtesy of Mille Lacs County Jail
Benjamin Garbow, Patrick Provo Jr., and Zachary Nayquonabe were among the first to qualify for banishment
Boarded-up homes across the reservation have been covered in grafitti
Andy Mannix
Boarded-up homes across the reservation have been covered in grafitti

It took a few minutes to find the source of the pungent, rotten odor. At first, they walked right past it, not even realizing what it was. The body of 19-year-old William Nickaboine was so badly beaten, maimed, and burned, it was barely recognizable as a human corpse.

For Koslowski, nothing would ever be the same after finding these mangled remains of his childhood friend.

"I still smell it sometimes," he says.

Word of Koslowski's discovery quickly spread across the 60,000-acre Ojibwe reservation carved out along Lake Mille Lacs. The community counts about 4,000 close neighbors and large extended families, and almost everyone knew Nickaboine. More than a year after the grisly discovery of the body, the topic still quiets members of the Ojibwe band.

Nickaboine was just the latest casualty on a reservation that has become overrun with shootings, muggings, and drugs, much of which the Ojibwe attribute to a new gang called the Native Mob.

"You can't trust anybody anymore," says Mille Lacs Ojibwe member Irene Benjamin. "It's families against families, friends against friends.... It's just crazy."

To fight back against the warring gangs and violent offenders, the tribe has revived an ancient form of punishment: banishment. Legally called "exclusion," it forbids the offender from entering the reservation's trust land for at least five years.

When it was used centuries ago, banishment was a thinly veiled death sentence. Without the rest of the tribe's support, an exiled member rarely survived for long in the wilderness.

But modern banishment means something entirely different.

"Where are they banishing them to?" asks Clyde Bellecourt, an Ojibwe civil rights leader. "They just come down to Minneapolis."

   

IN THE WORLD OF organized street crime, Native American gangs are still relative newcomers. While nationally recognized gangs like the Bloods and Crips started in the late 1960s and early '70s, most Indian gangs didn't show up until well into the '80s and '90s.

In the Midwest, several Native American gangs formed in south Minneapolis. They went by names like the Naturals, the Native Gangster Disciples, and the Native Vice Lords. They originated as the first line of defense against outside street gangs, says Christopher Grant, a Native American gang specialist.

"They don't want to be connected to a Mexican gang or a black gang or a white gang," says Grant. "They want to have their own identity."

The Native Mob didn't establish itself until the mid-'90s, but in short order rose to infamy as one of the most dangerous Indian gangs in the country, according to the Department of Justice. Born out of the Little Earth community in Minneapolis, the Mob made its bones by running drugs and guns from the Twin Cities to Ojibwe reservations across the state, eventually branching out to Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Though the Mob is small in numbers compared to other Native American gangs, none can match its reputation for ruthlessness and packing heavy artillery, says Jon Lurie, who has worked with Native Mob members at the American Indian Center.

"They seem to be more active in terms of being involved in violent crime," says Lurie. "The kids that I've known who are part of Native Mob were young and stupid and carried big guns—like the guns you would expect to see on the streets of Afghanistan."

It wasn't until 2005 that the Indian gang wars reached the Mille Lacs reservation. At first, the quiet community felt so distant from the gang culture in the Twin Cities that police and tribe members wrote the new gangsters off as "wannabes."

That changed after a subzero night in 2006. Cody St. John was walking home after a long evening of drinking when a man named Keith Reynolds jumped him. Reynolds was mad that St. John refused to join him in the Vice Lords.

Reynolds and another Vice Lords member knocked St. John unconscious. They tied him to the back of a car, dragged him down the street, and left him for dead, stripped of clothing in the -13 degree night.

When St. John didn't come home, his cousin Rubin went looking for him. Rubin found St. John outside the reservation's community center. He'd been beaten so badly, Rubin only recognized him by his tattoos.

Rubin rushed his cousin to the hospital, but St. John had suffered permanent brain damage. His skin was burned from the vehicle's muffler and the letters "VL" had been sliced into his body with a blade.

"They carved it on my face, my forearm, and my back," says St. John, who still picks gravel out of the scars five years later. "You can still see them today."

When Nickaboine's corpse was found, he marked the fourth teenager to turn up in the reservation's morgue in four months. Mille Lacs County has since charged two 20-year-old Ojibwe members with the murder, and the court proceedings are ongoing. Many speculate it was a gang-related murder, another tragedy in a community that has become all too accustomed to violence.

"If you had four drive-by shootings in Minneapolis in a two-month span, there'd be a huge outcry," says Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren. "We have four drive-by shootings in the Vineland district in a two-month period and it doesn't even make the local media."

  

FOR BRETT LARSON, the gang problem officially arrived in 2006. That's when tribal police stopped trying to convince his staff at the Mille Lacs Messenger that it wasn't happening.

The small community newspaper was struggling to keep up with all the violent crime. The Messenger ran so many crime stories, Larson began to receive letters from readers complaining about how the coverage was squeezing out all the positive stories and creating a negative portrayal of life on the reservation.

"We are overwhelmed," says Larson. "We don't have the people or the resources or the time to cover some of this as well as we would like to."

No one could deny the gang problem anymore, but the community was woefully unprepared to deal with it. Federal law prohibited the tribal court from sentencing any offender to more than a fine and a year in jail. Mille Lacs County has jurisdiction over the reservation, but it's only a small part of its coverage area, and the surge in crime had spread resources too thin.

To give the county some relief, the sheriff's office hired a gang task force agent with a Department of Justice grant. The gang specialist's job was to identify and document the gang members in Mille Lacs County in order to establish the scope of the problem.

By 2008, the specialist had documented 486 gang members, most of them living on the reservation. In comparison, the neighboring Aitkin and Morrison counties had 37 and 59 documented gang members, respectively.

"That's a pretty significant population," says Lindgren. "And they're connected. They're connected to Cass Lake. They're connected to Little Earth."

The tribal government started holding town meetings, searching for ideas of how to handle the problem. That's when Rjay Brunkow, then the tribe's solicitor general, came to police with the idea to banish the worst offenders.

Brunkow and police defined the criteria for banishment: A repeat offender would be exiled for five years. If the convict maintained a clean record and gainful employment, the tribe would consider lifting the banishment. In the meantime, the banished member would still collect casino money every month as part of the tribe's revenue-sharing program with its members.

Though it seemed like a logical solution for the tribe, not everyone in the community was thrilled about the radical idea.

"Where are they gonna go?" says Lindgren. "They're still the same people. It's like sending our bad people to Wisconsin."

 

MARIA KEGG WAS beginning to worry.

Night was falling on the Indian reservation, and her 12-year-old son, Evan, had yet to return home. Kegg lived on a rough block, and it wasn't safe to walk around after the sun went down.

Kegg climbed into her minivan and drove in search of Evan. She made it just five houses down the street when she recognized a group of three men.

"Where is Evan?" she asked.

"Leave him be," one replied ominously. "He's all right."

Suddenly, Kegg was staring down the barrel of a loaded handgun, about to be the victim of a carjacking.

Without thinking, she jumped out the driver's-side door of the van and grabbed one of the men from behind. She recognized her human shield as a friend of Evan's. She eased him backward until she found a clean break to make a run for a neighbor's house.

She dashed into the house and collapsed on the floor, screaming to call 911. Police arrived moments later and the street became the scene of an armed standoff, with at least one shot fired.

"I was like, 'God, that gun is loaded, and they just had it right by my head,'" says Kegg. "I still think about it sometimes."

Ten days later, Kegg was called to testify at an emergency hearing in the Mille Lacs tribal court against the three assailants. As she sat on the witness stand, she trembled as she recounted the horrific tale of the night she was almost killed.

Next a tribal elder named Carol Sam took the witness stand. The same week Kegg was held at gunpoint, Sam had an almost identical experience. The same three men jumped in front of her car, one slamming his hands on her hood and forcing her to stop. The strangers surrounded the car, and one put a gun to her head. "I'm going to fucking kill you!" he screamed.

Sam overheard one of the men say they had stopped the wrong car, but that didn't faze the one with the gun. Sam was able to escape only because one of the gunman's accomplices physically restrained him. "Go, go, go!" her savior ordered, and Sam sped off, ducking down in her seat for fear they would begin shooting.

Though Sam escaped unharmed, she told the court that she now had to take medication to fall asleep at night. She also heard rumors that her house was going to be "shot up."

"Where am I supposed to live, and who else should I fear?" she asked the courtroom.

The three carjackers—Benjamin Garbow, Patrick Provo Jr., and Zachary Nayquonabe—were among the first to qualify under the tribe's criteria for banishment.

"They were looking for the people who committed crime after crime after crime," explains Tribal Police Chief Dwight Reed.

The posse members' criminal histories spoke for themselves. Nayquonabe, only 20 at the time, had been busted for DWI, theft, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Provo had been convicted of two assaults. Earlier that month, he had been arrested by tribal police and blamed his sister, Heather, for letting him sit in jail. When he got out, he waited for her in their parents' driveway.

"You left me hanging!" he screamed, according to police.

Heather reminded her brother that she was pregnant.

"I don't care!" replied Patrick.

Just before the confrontation got physical, their dad came out of the house and kicked Patrick off his property. Given Patrick's history of violence, his sister called police, and Patrick was charged with a felony for domestic assault. At the time of his arrest, his blood-alcohol level was .245.

Garbow, the third carjacker, had been released from prison a few months earlier after serving three years for beating someone half to death with a tire iron.

In August 2008, a tribal judge excluded the three men from the reservation along with one other tribe member, marking the Ojibwe's first modern banishments. The judge ordered another banishment that October. The tribe is now in the process of banishing Darrick Williams, a 20-year-old tribe member who police say punched an Ojibwe woman so hard, he knocked one of her teeth clean out of her gums. After Williams's case is resolved, tribal police have a long list of new names to submit to the court for exile.

ON MAY 9, 2009, police got a report that a tribe member named Blaine Beaulieu had just beaten up a 17-year-old kid.

Beaulieu's was a familiar name to tribal police. He had been convicted of more than a dozen crimes, including two DWIs and eight assaults of varying degrees.

The cops received a tip that Beaulieu was holed up in a hotel room in Grand Casino, and broke in the door to arrest him.

"Wait until I see you without that badge," he threatened one officer as they escorted him to jail in handcuffs.

In the case of Beaulieu, the tribe couldn't banish him—he had already been banished seven months earlier. This was Beaulieu's third arrest on the reservation since he'd been exiled, which highlights a flaw of banishment.

"It's impossible to just sit around and patrol for people who have been excluded," says Matthew Fletcher, a tribal law professor from Michigan State University who studies banishment.

The difficulty of enforcement is just one reason that banishment is controversial among tribal law experts. As the ancient practice has been revived by tribes in Minnesota and across the country in the past decade, many have also questioned whether it's the equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment.

The definition of a banishment or exclusion changes from tribe to tribe, but along with losing one's place on the reservation, it is the only legal penalty in the world that has the potential to rob a tribe member of his or her identity, says Greg Guedel, attorney for Washington-based law firm Foster Pepper.

"If you're Irish and you commit murder and you're sentenced to either life in prison or the death penalty, you're still Irish," Guedel says. "With banishment, what the tribe is saying is you are no longer Cherokee, you are no longer Navajo. You are a person without a country."

The punishment also can become a potent political strategy in a tribe's power struggle, says Katherine Florey, tribal law professor at University of California-Davis.

"I wouldn't wanna go around saying that banishment is always a wonderful thing," says Florey. "It's subject to abuse."

One example happened in 2008, when nine members of the Snoqualmie tribe in Washington state were banished for running an alleged "shadow government." The exiled members appealed the ruling, arguing they were actually cast out as a power play from opposing party members. In one of the only banishment cases ever to see a federal courtroom, a judge sided with the banished members and overturned the tribe's ruling.

In Mille Lacs, the biggest problem with banishment so far has been people like Beaulieu who come back after being cast out. Of the five people banished since 2008, all but one has since been arrested back on the reservation.

"Has it stopped crime completely? No," says Reed. "Has it reduced it? Maybe. But they still come back and commit crimes."

 

MARLENE POUKKA'S house is still scarred by the bullet lodged just centimeters over the second-story window of her son's bedroom.

Poukka was asleep when it happened last winter. She awoke to the unmistakable sound of gunfire in her front yard. Before she could even get up to investigate, her son barged into her room.

"Mom!" he screamed. "Somebody just shot at the house!"

She found out the next morning that someone living at her next-door neighbor's house owed money to a drug dealer. When the money didn't come on time, the dealer wanted to send a message. Poukka's house had just been collateral damage.

"We have a pretty good idea who it is," she says, divulging only that the shooters were gang members. "I really don't want to say anything."

Today, two pit bulls stand sentry in her yard for security. Though she's lived there for eight years, she feels uncomfortable walking beyond her own driveway.

"I don't feel safe at all," she says.

Poukka's block doesn't have streetlights, and she's witnessed the gangs that roam her neighborhood under the cover of darkness.

"I've seen groups of teenagers walking down the road with clubs," she says. "I mean, what are they doing outside at that time in the morning?"

More than her own safety, she worries about her seven-year-old grandson, Jamie, whom she's helping to raise. Poukka's endured the fear for only a few years, but Jamie has never known any other life.

"He's just a little one," Poukka says. "When kids grow up with violence and they see it, they tend to do the same thing."

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
35 comments
Same!
Same!

And by the way, go ahead and trash my comment and say all the things you please, that doesn't change my brother's problem with this story, I also must say my brother tried seeing the author of this story and calling because HE DID NOT want his name in this.

Angry
Angry

I must say I still dislike how they have my brother's name all over the beginning I must say it's stupid, you really have no clue how hard my family tries keeping him out of these stories. This story is great but it's also very horrible, thank you though for reminding my brother of this night. You guys didn't have to sit there with him everyday to help him. So yeah, you guys are some straight dumb ass people.

Dakotah_janet
Dakotah_janet

Sorry I think your wrong. people change, all it takes is a life threating situation. Make them open their eyes.

omukakee
omukakee

You sound like a parrot. I dont know any inbred natives. Maybe its you who are inbred. I feel pity for you. Any of us can pull ourselves up out of the ghetto and be a better person, if we are strong enough. I have a degree, grew up in the ghetto, where there is violence and abuse of all kinds. I am changing my life for the better and im taking my kids with me. They will know their culture and people. If i can help others from the res i will. But they must be willing to help themselves too. Someone here said it well. We choose to be victims until we die languishing in pity, or we decide to be survivors and bring ourselves and our people out of this self imposed hell. Miigwech.

Realtalknative
Realtalknative

To the native youth dont join gangs come back to our spiritial/traditional circle this is how you stand out in your community and get pride and belonging

Angels
Angels

The Elders predicted the distruction of the tribe if they brought in casinos. Greed will destroy the people. The white man tried to destroy the Native population once and almost succeeded. Now they are destroying themselves. Make em leave, but cut off their percap too, or they will and do use their monthly money to travel back to terrorize and kill their own people. Let the children see that they will be distanced from their families if they join the gang, maybe they will think twice before they get sucked in to a life of hell.

Shobankj
Shobankj

Thats a wicked cycle there talking about yeah it historical trauma at its worst result I would say it started by boarding schools and the Catholic churches the abuse its bad and. Foster care didn't benefit no one we can't hate our babies we have take better. Care of them and teach them how our people were hurt and try to instill love peace in their hearts and compassion for understanding it might be difficult isnnt this exactly what the white man wanted was to opress our people and devastate a once powerful strong nation for their own gain these are trying times but as Indian people in our hearts we can't let them win

Guest
Guest

It all stems from the Violence against our women, Child molestation and In breeding that goes on and everyone tries hiding. Its just Karma Slapping our people in the Face saying, "Hello, wake up this is a war zone". We all know someone that has done it, our Grandfathers have done it and it keeps going on and on. Then give us hand outs to reward us for bad behavior, we just start expecting everything handed to us. The white man was wrong by taking our land, But that's how it was centuries ago. Now big government has stepped in and really made a mess out of things once again. Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is called inbreeding "depression". Its not my place to judge, but our actions have compelled a higher power to judge and its sad to see that everyone keeps acting like nothing is going on. The "Per Capita" we receive is "Dirty" money that is generated from a gambling demon that has corrupted many people and takes advantage of this sin, but no one cares as long as we get our money. We all get this money handed to us and continue to rip people off, which is a greed demon that has spread nationwide. So now there are about a dozen Demons running wild and free to do whatever they want. Now the Gangs / Terrorists!!! are the repercussion from our children that were taught to keep their mouths shut and shown no love unless daddy was drunk and horny, So who stood up for these children, Gitchi Manidoo and he can only let so much of this go on before he releases his wrath and we're seeing it first hand. So this is only going to get worse since everyone is concerned about per cap and not the future of our people. We have no motivation to better ourselves, we get jobs handed to us and think we wont be fired cause we're Native, which is true but that's what we're taught. So here you go all you elders, you just reaped what you sowed. How many more are we going to lose before we realize the cycle isn't working. Show this to all the elected officials and see if they continue the *hush-hush* don't talk to the media or actually care about our people or just their beloved dollar that continues to bring our people down. Cut our Per Cap and invest it in creating Jobs, Awareness, Hope, Education and Religion as this is the only way to break the vicious cycle that we have created for ourselves.

Alicia Barnes
Alicia Barnes

When teen's are committing such violent crimes against their own people, and collecting tribal money, that isn't fair to our people. That's saying they can commit murder and practically get away with it in the eyes of the tribe. So, where is the healing for the families come in?

guest
guest

Thank your leaders from the ML Band, the *hush-hush* don't talk to the media, is keeping the truth from being made public knowledge...it is not an embarrassment. We all are living in a war zone...with our youth as the terrorists!!! The community needs to make tougher drug and gang laws to fight this epidemic, living so close to the Twin Cities, this makes it easier for the youth to go back and forth! The parents know what is going on, they can say something to law enforcement, or the Band. This needs to be dealt with, or will we all hide in our homes afraid one of our children are going to kill us?

Rezmutts
Rezmutts

along with the banishment should come suspension of their tribal monies, hurt me in the pocket book, will make them think twice at least.

WilliamWasNativeMob
WilliamWasNativeMob

Does anybody else notice that William's picture was taken next to a police car's tire?

NP
NP

I know this an issue that is happening and is serious, I understand that, but City Pages should have chosen a more positive story on Natives. Every time I see anything in the media about us Indigenous people it is more times negative than positive or even good. Now all the people who read this story who are uneducated about natives have another bad impression of us. And all the white folk are probably scared that violent, wild Indians will be running around the twin cities! Thanks a lot City Pages... what a great way to help us Natives enjoy November- Native American heritage month.

L.A. Native Girl
L.A. Native Girl

The problem doesn't lie in the archaic model of "historical trauma" any more. As an urban Native person whose parents choose to get off the reservation and be educated role models for their children, I refuse to buy into the victimhood mentality so many Native people do. I have two college degrees, I own my home, I am stable and healthy. My parents and I sought out these positive paths - they were not laid out for us by government, programs or white people.

No amount of academic research, media or pandering convinces me that Native people can blame genocide or white people for their problems any more. Native people have evolved for so long believing they are victims that they have morphed into self-perpetuating machines of their own marginalization.

Also, this gang problem is NOT a Native problem. It's an American problem. It's a rural problem. The gang violence mentality is glorified in mainstream media, and in rural areas that is all there is for entertainment. Again, parents of these kids can CHOOSE to limit their exposure to this media, educate, discipline and be good role models.

I. Gonzalez   Dist. 1
I. Gonzalez Dist. 1

The Tribal government needs to get tougher with these criminals !! Banishment is just a joke the crooks dont care they will hang around the rez anyway and continue to commit crimes and victimize people . We , as the law abiding peaceful non gang members non criminals of the native community need to stand up to these criminals, these thugs that prey on our elders and children and have no respect for themselves the law or anybody else. Our elders no longer feel safe in their own homes , children cant play in our streets !! we can ignore this no longer !! our people are living in fear of these criminals and its up to us, the police, the courts, and corrections to take action !!I we cant be afraid anymore to be labled a snitch if we see crime going on or suspicious activity we need to call the Tribal police. I believe we should stop the per cap payments and take away Band housing , no more Mr. nice guy !! hit these crooks right where it hurts the most and banish them on top of it for good measure. I know this sounds cruel but we need to put the word out there that WE THE PEOPLE have had enough of this and do not want this in our community.

Crystal Goose
Crystal Goose

There is no easy answer or strategy to stop this violence. Our children are being recruited as young as 12 and 13. Young women are being recruited for prostitution as another way for the Mob to make more money. I don't know what the answer is, but I do believe that these young men should be given a taste of their own medicine for their punishment, if they beat the crap out of somebody, then their punishment should be to get the crap beat out of them, and then maybe they would think twice next time about harming, shooting or tormenting innocent people. It infuriates me to know they are scaring or abusing our elders. Our elders are to be honored and respected. You send these young men to prison or banish them from their reservations will not solve anything, they will continue to commit the same criminal acts in prison or somewhere else. I say an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We've all had rough lives on the reservations, that's no excuse to harm or murder others, we all make our own choices, and must suffer the consequences. The punishment for these horrid acts should be just as stiff as the crime committed.

Amber Rose Belonga
Amber Rose Belonga

Banishment obviously isn't helping. They should lose all benefits of the tribe. All, per cap, medical, everything. They should do what repeat offenders do everywhere else, go to prison. There has to be a better way than this, before it was a big deal to be banished, now it's just a word and there's not enough manpower to make sure they stay out completely. and I'm sorry but I come from a tribe with no per cap and we have our problems but nothing like this. Seems paying these kids every month causes problems too. They're getting paid to be like this. There has to be a way to change that. There just has to. There has to be rules for per cap. I've been saying for years that they should impose a mandatory money management class before they give you your first payments. It doesn't matter how much you're getting, you should have to take money management classes first. There should be rules, you can't break the law, things like that, or you don't get it, it sits there in a trust until you can prove that you're responsible enough to have it.

Tammymiller04
Tammymiller04

Banishment and loss of Per CapitaThose are at very least ideas on how to make changes. They may make it harder for these people to live or even exist but I don’t believe they are the right answers. We, as a community, need to look at the big picture. Why are our people turning to drugs, alcohol, and violence? Government cannot change its people - people change the government. No matter the laws in place people will do what they need to survive. I find it interesting that the City Pages article mention banishing in the past would be a death sentence. In a sense when America was taken from us, American Indians, we, American Indians, were banished to the reservation. We, American Indians, do not want the non-Native government telling us how to live or manage our land or our money. Now we want to do the same to our people. I agree something needs to be done. We need to be safe in our homes and on our lands. We as a community need to demand the changes then support the elected officials’ who make the changes, the police who enforce the changes and the courts who sentence the crimes even if it is our sons, daughters, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews who lose their benefits. This will not be easy and that is why it is difficult for our elected officials to pass the laws that will affect all of us. Not just the drug seller, the child abuser, the alcoholic or the person who is violent.But again you have to think about the big picture. When these people are banished and or lose their benefits who will they go to? They will go to their mom, dad, grandparents, sister, brother, aunt or uncle. Are we as a community ready to support them? They are now faced with dealing with the fallout of their family member’s poor decisions. How many of you could honestly say go away, don’t come around here anymore, be hungry, be homeless? I do not claim to have the answers but I have a few ideas. First we need to make decisions then support them. That may mean change or create laws, enforce banishment, or taking away per capita payments. On anyone of these ideas we have to keep in mind the people who if affects. We then need to build support systems so the offender’s family has a resource. Currently our system is not working. We have social workers, drug counselors, and safe house but how effective are they. If we tell someone they have to go to treatment do we make them wait a month to meet with the counselor then another month to get into a facility? And if that person does not have health insurance then is it oh well you cannot go even though you clearly have an addiction. Because then if it is about money we need to find the money to send them. That may mean the money withheld from the offenders goes into a pot to support the person when he or she is ready to get help. We also need to build a support system so people are not afraid to come forward and testify if needed. Often time’s people do not speak because they are afraid for his or her family. Or they are afraid to incriminate themselves or a family member’s. “My son didn’t do it.” Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and violence have affected every family on the reservation in some way. We are just afraid to talk about it or admit because we are embarrassed or will think someone will think we are weak. We have to say no to any type of violence whether it is on Facebook making false accusations, verbal abuse, or actual physical violence. We must figure out where this anger is coming from then confront it. Why do you feel you need to hit in order to be heard? Why must you talk negatively about someone else in order to feel better about yourself? Lastly and importantly we need to give the people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or who have committed a crime hope. Hope that when she or he is not using drugs or alcohol or when he or she gets out of jail they have something to live for. A better life then they lived before. If we banish them we need clear steps on how he or she may re-enter the community. We need clear steps on how to obtain their per capita once they are drug and alcohol free. We must build in a system that when the person is ready to re-enter the reservation free of chemicals and has dealt with the issue that caused them to be violent in the first place he or she can get a job to support themselves. Everyone knows that one success can build on another success. A purpose in life gives you direction and a reason to live. Everyone knows once a user it is hard to stop when nothing has changed around you. With this knowledge we need to change the entire community not just the drug seller, alcoholic, or violent offender. Mille Lacs Band members we have an advantage here because we are a tribe with a government, law enforcement, a court system and programs. Let’s make them work for us to change. Each and every one of us has to take a stand. Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world.”

LOCSMOKE27
LOCSMOKE27

I GREW UP ON THE MILLE LACS REZ AND THE GANG PROBLEM ISNT A NEW THING THERE WAS VICE LORDS BEFORE THE NATIVE MOB AND I THINK IF THERE WAS MORE POSITIVE THINGS TO FOCUS THE YOUTHS ATTENTION ON THEN ITD DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF NEGATIVE ACTIVITY THAT TAKES PLACE.BUT WHEN YOUR SURROUNDED BY NOTHING BUT ADDICTION THATS WHATS GONNA REPRODUCE.THE RACISM IS RIDICULOUS AROUND THERE AND I SAW IT FROM BOTH POINTS OF VIEW BEING MOSTLY CHIMOOK MYSELF.. ITS SAD ESPECIALLLY WHEN 'OUR GOVERNMENT' COMMITED GENOCIDE ON THE NATIVES OF THIS COUNTRY AND THEN HAVE TRIED TO SWEEP IT UNDER THE RUG.GREAT WHITE FATHER IN WASHINGTON WAS HITLER TO THE SKINS AND OUR COUNTRY HAS SINCE TURNED INTO A SCUM RIDDEN WASTELAND OF DRUG ADDICTION AND CRIME AND POLLUTION! IM ASHAMED TO HAVE ANY WHITE BLOOD IN ME AND I WISH NATIVES WOULD START STEPPIN UP AND RECLAIM THEIR HERITAGE OF BEING PROUD,STRONG, HONORABLE PEOPLE! THE TYPE OF PEOPLE THAT MANIDOO SPOKE SO CLEARLY TO IN THE PAST! SO BROTHER N SISTERS LETS START LOVING EACH OTHER AGAIN AND REBUILD ITHE FUTURE GENERATIONS! SINCERELY WHITE MAN FROM TOWN

community member
community member

As I understand it, the tribal governments can vote to change the law. Out tribe changes what is required of us to receive our per-cap. We are recently required to register in person once a year. For those who don't live anywhere near the reservation it is more than a hassle, it is costly. It seems if requirements can be changed for all members, it can be change for all members that become repeat offenders. I would think the tribal council could take a community vote. The funds could be put into a trust. Our tribe does that for kids under 18, why couldn't the same thing be done for repeat offenders? We have not only help the youth that growing up in the community but also help those who have become sucked in by the gang. This is all very shocking and sad.

A concerned member
A concerned member

By law, you can't take away per-cap, unless you plan on taking away per-cap from everyone. It's sad, because then you're left knowing that you are still paying them to get the things that poison our community, but you can't take it away from everyone, cause there are those that actually need it. I think there needs to be more after school programs, more community involvement, a program to prepare kids for college, and scholarships set up for colleges. Something to show our youth that there's better things to do than join a gang. There's not enough of that, there wasn't when I was growing up. Sure there was CYS, but after so and so years, your friends stop going, and eventually you do too. Sadly, the only thing I think you can do, is focus on the kids that can be helped, show them there's a better way. Provide them tutors. They're the ones who are gonna be our leaders. They are the ones that are gonna need the help, not the ones already lost to these gangs.

Friend
Friend

As I have said before, this violence that has incinerated a nation of proud peoples has saddened me deeply. While I believe in the use of traditional and cultural forms of punishment, I don't believe simply exiling one from the reservation is enough. You must take away the things that have become more important than their community. That being, money and other services available to them. Take away the per cap, the Indian Health Services, and other programs that were meant to assist those who needed it most. Obviously, life and community mean very little to them. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the Mille Lacs Community. May the Great Spirit guide the young.

Lizfoster
Lizfoster

Andy thank you for sharing this story with us. This is horrific for those who have endured such violence may God be with them and my prayers are for a better home for those who remain on the reservation. I also know that Apache Nations - have banishment in their constitution, this type of consequences has existed in their constitution for years.

melanie spears
melanie spears

What is the purpose of banishment if is not to be used for the good of our native young peoople? My son Patrick has finished high school, attended college, has a job a family, and is working on changing his life. He has paid his debt to society. What about when he was in the foster care system for 10 years? Where were his advocates then? Our children are suppose to be cherished and helped through mistakes. Some one should take the time to hear the whole picture. What about when he was shot in Onamia in 2010 when he almost lost his life in a driveby? Remember that we are the elders teaching our youth how to grow, learn, and forgive. Rev. Melanie L. Spears, mother foster mother, grandmother, Dakotah of Crow Creek and widow of George Spears frrom Red Lake.

Wildiris2357
Wildiris2357

valentines day has a whole new meaning to my life since my son Cody was beaten almost to death, and knowing will for over 10 years and losing him was such a tragedy. What the families have had to endure as well as the elders held at gun point shouldnt have truamatized them. These crimminal need to be stripped of there per capita as well as banishment as a wake up call that Mille Lacs Band will not except this kind of brutal behavior. I have watched to much violence, drugs and alcohol to the teens and the effects it has had on their lives as they reach adulthood. They need to change something before we lose more of our young people who could be future leaders.

worried
worried

maybe taking away their per capita along with banishment will help some! I mean, just like the article says, they come back anyways so what is the difference! This is so sad that they are killing their own people...

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann

Awesome article Andy. The problems on the rez don't get the coverage they deserve. Violence creates more violence. You have to feel for tribe because I'm sure banishment wasn't their first idea but they seem at wit's end.

Chey
Chey

I agree. They're still benefiting from being tribal members, they're just banished from the rez. Some of them should have all rights from being enrolled taken away. No more IHS care, no more per cap payments, none of it. You want to act like that, go stay in the city where they don't give a damn. Don't abuse our elders and children. That's just weak.

Rezmutts
Rezmutts

hit them in the pocket book, make them get a job because they think they're all bad,they're just a bunch of punk kids.

Akecheta
Akecheta

Aren't you a lucky girl to have never suffered at the hands of fate? You may have swallowed a bottle of bleach and be living your white dream, but some are left in a dark nightmare, with the resonance that cultural genocide is a reality. Your parents made your choice and your life, valley-girl, others have had little choice or guidance and are still suffering a legacy.

You were born outside of poverty, others have had no such opportunity. To criticize and condemn them, however, is to show how far removed you are from your recent history, and simply supports the position of those who carried out the systematic raping and pillaging of an ancient people. Yes, these were your people.

To be so arrogant about your two degrees and one house is to demonstrate an undeserving, flawed character. You have done nothing spectacular, and nothing that any other person of your abandoned heritage would not have, given the same environment. Perhaps they would have been able to speak better of their heritage though, and the pain of their people. Perhaps they would have used their two degrees to help, rather than simply abandon their lineage. Perhaps, they would have returned to their heritage and demonstrated a positive example to women and young people who feel utterly hopeless. We will never find out, as they have as much chance of gaining an opportunity such as yours, as you have of being a bright star for your ancestors.

The gang problem? Of course it is endemic, but the root cause, and it's horrific effect, is no less a reality on the reservations. Yes, many still live on what is called a 'reservation'. Many do not have running water. Many do not have the access to education, or to their modern identity to be able to navigate to a successful point to the poverty-line, let alone above it.

They are victims, just as you are dereliction.

JennyJ
JennyJ

@LOCSMOKE27  Nice words but your actions speak in an opposing direction.  Were you not just released from detention because of domestic abuse, burglary, financial fraud and drug possession?  I too am from the Rez and have been around the same yet I have made the decision to lead by example.  Try it once.  

JennyJ
JennyJ

@LOCSMOKE27  Nice words but your actions speak in an opposing direction.  Were you not just released from detention because of domestic abuse/assault, burglary, financial fraud and drug possession?  I too am from the Rez and have been around the same yet I have made the decision to lead by example and NOT support such activities.  Try it once, show "your" next generation some pride.  


Jenny J.

dunkleydebra
dunkleydebra

Their per-cap could be put in a restitutions fund for victims and if they keep repeating offenses to harm themselves or others then they will know what and who is hurting their pocketbook. Also the medical services should be given to another native whether this native is from your tribe or not. We are all Native American!

dunkleydebra
dunkleydebra

Thank you. I have lived on the reservation and in the city....gang members are the same....in my opinion. Opportunities are there you have to reach inside yourself and take it. My mother taught us that in her own way and she had no degrees just common sense.

Guest
Guest

It all stems from the Violence against our women, Child molestation and In breeding that goes on and everyone tries hiding. Its just Karma Slapping our people in the Face saying, "Hello, wake up this is a war zone". We all know someone that has done it, our Grandfathers have done it and it keeps going on and on. Then give us hand outs to reward us for bad behavior, we just start expecting everything handed to us. The white man was wrong by taking our land, But that's how it was centuries ago. Now big government has stepped in and really made a mess out of things once again. Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is called inbreeding "depression". Its not my place to judge, but our actions have compelled a higher power to judge and its sad to see that everyone keeps acting like nothing is going on. The "Per Capita" we receive is "Dirty" money that is generated from a gambling demon that has corrupted many people and takes advantage of this sin, but no one cares as long as we get our money. We all get this money handed to us and continue to rip people off, which is a greed demon that has spread nationwide. So now there are about a dozen Demons running wild and free to do whatever they want. Now the Gangs / Terrorists!!! are the repercussion from our children that were taught to keep their mouths shut and shown no love unless daddy was drunk and horny, So who stood up for these children, Gitchi Manidoo and he can only let so much of this go on before he releases his wrath and we're seeing it first hand. So this is only going to get worse since everyone is concerned about per cap and not the future of our people. We have no motivation to better ourselves, we get jobs handed to us and think we wont be fired cause we're Native, which is true but that's what we're taught. So here you go all you elders, you just reaped what you sowed. How many more are we going to lose before we realize the cycle isn't working. Show this to all the elected officials and see if they continue the *hush-hush* don't talk to the media or actually care about our people or just their beloved dollar that continues to bring our people down. Cut our Per Cap and invest it in creating Jobs, Awareness, Hope, Education and Religion as this is the only way to break the vicious cycle that we have created for ourselves.

 
Loading...