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White Earth Nation gets state funding for essential tribal programs

White Earth Nation will receive $5.18 million from the Minnesota Legislature for essential Tribal programs. Funding will support Human Services, Indian Child Welfare, and the White Earth Integrated Businesses Development System (WEIBDS). An additional $1 million government aid appropriation will also support the Tribe.

As part of the total appropriation, White Earth also accepted $2.18 million to purchase 2,000 acres of Potlatch Corporation property located on White Earth Reservation. Through delicate negotiations with House and Senate leadership, the Tribal Council proposed and determined that accepting the land in fee status was acceptable. This decision subsequently led to Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funding approval in a bipartisan conference committee.

“The Tribal Council put together a team that achieved all our state legislation items,” said Steven “Punky” Clark, White Earth Vice-Chairman. “We are very proud of this accomplishment. This funding supports White Earth Anishinaabeg as it starts to address human services and our economy. With ongoing funding for these programs, Governor Dayton, the State Legislature, and other State officials have acknowledged White Earth’s needs. The Tribal Council thanks Governor Dayton, and Senators Skoe, Saxhaug, Abeler, Eaton, Rosen, Champion, and Hayden. We would also like to thank Representatives Urdahl, Green, Dean, Persell, McNamara, Flanagan, Zerwas, and Moran among several other legislators. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has shown great promise in fulfilling its mission by including Minnesota Tribes. The White Earth Tribal Council is extremely satisfied with our legislative results.”

Vice-chairman Clark continued by saying, “We wrote WEIBDS in one week to answer Governor Dayton’s call to address economic disparity. Among the hundreds of programs that competed for this funding, WEIBDS stood tall and showed the world how unique we are. We are currently the only out-state program in this legislation — tribal, non-tribal, and startup — that answered the call for equity. Initial funding for WEIBDS is $500,000 with ongoing yearly funding at $125,000. I am especially proud of this project as it shows how strong we are together. When we stand together great things happen. I want to thank the White Earth Tribal Council, Mahnomen County, the City of Mahnomen, Mitch Berg, Alan Roy, Michael Neusser, the White Earth Development Organization, and other staff for their support during this legislative session.”