Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

tribal council chairman Bobby Whitefeather's Order of Exile

Bill Lawrence's editorial on banishment of Clara NiiSka

James and Dan help unload new stove
August 1997: James Meier and son Dan help Wub-e-ke-niew and Clara unload their new woodstove.

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Red Lake hits new low on human rights

The issuance of the removal order by Red Lake tribal chairman Bobby Whitefeather and the actual removal of Clara NiiSka, the widow of Wub-e-ke-niew, at a probate hearing last Tuesday has to be a new low for the Red Lake Tribal Court. It couldn't have come at a worse time for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sandra Gardebring and her efforts to require the Minnesota state court system to both recognize and enforce tribal court rulings. Can you imagine a more politicized and unjust judicial system in which all you need do to prevail is to get the tribal chairman to issue a removal order and have your opponent removed from the reservation? Let's hope that the more rational members of the state court/tribal court committee will see this for what it really is and insist that tribal courts must be separated from the control of the tribal councils before there will be any further dialogue about their recognition. Whitefeather must really be getting desperate for votes to take such drastic action as to deny a person her day in court. It shows really poor judgment on his part and brings more ridicule upon the Red Lake judicial system. Actions such as this are the reasons that his administration has been such a disaster for the Red Lake reservation. If ever the reservation is to have any meaningful economic development, the court must be independent so that investments can be protected from the arbitrary and capricious actions of tribal politicians. With the blatant abuse of rights such as Whitefeather's removal order of Clara NiiSka, it isn't hard to understand the current effort to end tribal sovereign immunity and the need to bring the Bill of Rights to Indian country. Whitefeather's action should further this effort in both regards. In any event, this latest egregious abuse of authority should warrant the prompt attention of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. wjl