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Tribal election is Tuesday on WE

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White Earth residents will be electing reservation leaders Tuesday, as the general election there kicks off at 8 a.m.

The election board office in the Shooting Star Casino RV parking lot will also be open Monday for walk-in absentee voters.

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Up for election this year is the White Earth secretary-treasurer position and District I and District II representatives.

The candidates all wrote about their platforms in White Earth newspaper, Anishinaabeg Today.

Secretary/Treasurer

Incumbent Robert Durant of Mahnomen is running to keep his position.

“Making the most effective policies that are fair and protective of us as a people is important, not only for today, but also for tomorrow as the decisions we make today impacts our future generations,” he wrote.

Durant says their “tribal sovereignty requires strong partnerships and teamwork” within all levels of government.

“During the past four years I have worked hard to establish these relationships, not only with our external partners, but also with our membership,” he wrote. 

Challenger Tara Mason of Callaway says she will continue to ask all White Earth residents for their involvement in the decision-making process as they face upcoming issues.

“We need to create groups and councils on critical issues,” she wrote. “I would push for the creation of additional commissions and boards to help oversee various service providers on the reservation.” 

She goes on to say that she would like to see a Gaming Commission of tribal members and a clear, consistent separation of powers on White Earth that should start immediately.

Mason is also campaigning on ensuring a transparent government and creating healthy initiatives and programs.

District I Rep.

Irene Auginaush of the Bagley area is an 18-year incumbent.

She says she believes White Earth needs “someone who can convince a congressman-congresswoman of the needs on our reservation and educate the new congressmen coming in who know nothing about us; disheartening health care or the insufficient, poor economy.”

Auginaush goes on to say that while she agrees with many parts of White Earth’s new constitution like the separation of powers, she is passionately against the part that concerns enrollment and blood quantum.

“Our population will explode,” she said. “We can’t get into the clinic as it is. It is hard enough to get grants for home repair or sewer or water. But the part that angers the people the most is that we will have to share our land.”

Auginaush, who says she believes there was a lot of room for fraud in the last mail-in election, says she wants to stay on the council to try to change the enrollment section of the new constitution.

A lifelong resident of White Earth, the Rice Lake-area, challenger Steve Clark has served on various volunteer committees, including the Title VII Indian Education committee, White Earth Boys and Girls Club, president of the Bagley Youth Hockey Association and has been a foster parent.

Clark says he would like to see more transportation provided to District 1 youth and more youth activities created.

“We need to bring recreation programs back not only for the young but for older youth,” he writes. “I believe this will be a tool in the prevention of drugs, alcohol and suicide amongst our youth.”

Clark says he would like to see some of those programs include the elders, who he says should also be involved in developing new conservation codes.

Clark says he also believes program directors, not the Tribal Council, should be hiring employees, and would also like to see drug testing “start right at the top with Tribal Council members.”

District II Rep.

Incumbent Terry Tibbetts is a long-life resident of Naytahwaush village and vice chairman of the Tribal Council.

He is also on the board of the Naytahwaush Community Charter School and Chairman of the 1855 Treaty Authority.

Treaty rights is a passion of Tibbetts’, as he says “I will to protect cultural beliefs and ways of life,” he wrote, adding that the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is now considering adopting a resolution similar to White Earth’s that made the reservation a wolf sanctuary.

Tibbetts also points out that he has implemented the process for a five-day clinic in Naytahwaush, wrote about the new housing development going up in the community, and a new Head Start building that just opened up.

“I will continue to support increasing our land base by purchasing and placing them into trust, which will create more development opportunities and housing sites,” he wrote.

Challenger Kathy Goodwin is a Minneapolis native who moved to Naytahwaush when she was 21.

Over the past 42 years, she has been active in areas including the Naytahwaush Community Council, the White Earth Elders, Anishinabe Legal Service and White Earth Land Recovery Project.

Goodwin was also among the first volunteers on the White Earth Ambulance service.

“I believe in volunteering to help others,” she wrote. “I had worked for the Tribal Council for 33 years in the Licensing Department, Tribal Court, and the development of the Motor Vehicle Department.”

Goodwin is running on the idea of tackling poverty through job creation.

“We could utilize tax credits and lease our lands for businesses within our communities,” she said. “We would always retain our lands and provide meaningful jobs for our people. Our people need options.”

The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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