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Letter to Governor Dayton

The Honorable Governor Mark Dayton

Dear Governor Dayton,

Congratulations on your very successful and well-run campaign. Although our parties were opponents on the ballot, we assure you that we share similar goals on several issues. The Resource Party believes in our Declaration of Independence, and in our wonderful United States Constitution and its guarantees of equal-protection-under-the-law for all citizens.

The Resource Sentinel is my personal public service news outlet. We use it for writing newspapers, fact sheets, and letters to public officials, and press releases about issues that too often escape the editorial scrutiny and public debate they deserve. The Resource Sentinel is one of the most honest newspapers (a rare commodity?) in our once great Republic.

Governor Dayton, we have heard you repeat on several occasions that you share our belief in equal rights. We trust that your equal-rights concerns extend to our American Indian citizens, as well as to those who did not choose to be born with different sexual orientations. The rights of these two groups of citizens are politically kicked around by religious groups, politicians, and well-funded special interests—like a ball in a gruesome and often-destructive soccer game.

We request that you exercise your duty to protect Minnesota citizens, as well as our Minnesota Constitution. In doing so, you must investigate the increasing problems of American Indians. They are Minnesota and U. S. citizens who are systematically deprived of their rights by unaccountable tribal governments. These regimes exercise unconstitutional “sovereign” power variously delegated and supported by rogue agencies of our state and federal governments.

Unquestionably, thanks to tribal governments and the modern sovereignty system, American Indians enjoy fewer constitutional protections than any other group in the United States. The U. S. Supreme Court has held that tribal governments are not subject to the United States Constitution and its amendments when exercising their “sovereign” powers. (See Talton v. Mayes, 163 U.S. 376, 384 {1986}, regarding the 5th Amendment.) Although Congress had passed the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, 25 U.S.C. S1302, the Supreme Court has held that the Indian Civil Rights Act is unenforceable in federal courts. Individual tribal enrollees cannot appeal tribal court decisions to federal courts for review. As a result, the same tribal governments who create and control tribal courts—in the absence of true separation of powers—are protected, while the civil rights of individual tribal members and non-members get trampled.

Officials of Minnesota and of the United States should be held accountable when they dump billions of dollars in budget deficits on taxpayers—without the due public information and out-in-the-open debates, testimony, and voting that high-cost, high-impact issues deserve. Consider our no-sunset tribal gambling compacts, fraudulently orchestrated so that Minnesota is the only state in the country not collecting taxes on gaming profits. A University of Minnesota study showed that gambling in our state carries social costs that may approach $10 billion a year. Studies conducted by University of Illinois Prof. John Kindt, summarized in the Congressional Report, show that social costs are at least three dollars for every dollar a tribal casino takes in. Meanwhile, crime escalates 10 percent per year after three years of casino operation.

Still more tribal-related costs accrue to Minnesota as taxable fee lands are taken off the property-tax rolls and allowed to become untaxed tribal trust lands, even as no federal or state agency has legal authority to do so. We pointed this out to Minnesota’s attorney general about three years ago. We are still waiting for an explanation.

Other big budget-deficit problems are drugs and alcohol. A recent University of Minnesota Law School study listed drunken driving as a $4.2 billion dollar cost to the state. The late Bill Lawrence, our Red Lake Chippewa editor-publisher friend who produced Native American Press/Ojibwe News for over 20 years, left us a legacy of education about how the modern sovereignty system encourages social problems. He blamed tribal, federal, and state government failures for failing to stop drug and alcohol abuse on Minnesota reservations. Bill was foremost among Minnesota editors in highlighting the destructive impacts of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) on the lives of Indian people and on millions of others. Thanks to Bills’ urging, his good friend Jody Allen Crowe studied the horrible effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and wrote a well-researched and informative book about it, “The Fatal Link.” We read that compelling book, met Mr. Crowe, and strongly support his Healthy Brains For Children Inc. foundation.

Jody Allen Crowe sent us links to studies that connect autism to FAS. We heard recently on CNBC that the last 20 years have brought an 800-percent increase in autism. That fits with news stories about young people drinking more and suffering proportionately more tragic accidents. Meanwhile powerful forces dodge the realities of FAS by blaming everything else—like paint on toys, fishing sinkers, lead in shotgun shells, inoculations, and mercury—for FAS-caused mental health problems and special-education needs. We have heard that special-education budgets in our schools now equal the sum of their normal budgets. Thanks to information from Mr. Crowe, we believe FAS is behind a huge portion of our special-ed costs. Too often FAS is never mentioned, much to the detriment of American Indians and other citizens.

Governor, we face an estimated $5-billion to $6-billion state budget deficit midst all the social costs of gambling, drugs, and alcohol, plus land being taken off the tax rolls. Meanwhile the gambling casinos are rolling in money, fuelling more land purchases, and creating more crime. Here’s a merry-go-round that isn’t a fun ride! Back in the late 1980s we warned legislators and state officials what would happen. But they opted for taking Indian Industry money and political support while selling out the citizens.

Governor Dayton, don’t hesitate to call if you need a little help taking on these issues. We wish you the best of luck.

Sincerely,

Howard B. Hanson

 

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