A portion of the revenue from alcohol sales would reportedly go toward funding an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center on the reservation.

A vote to allow alcohol to be sold at Spirit Lake Casino has been postponed by the Spirit Lake Tribal Council.

The vote, which was scheduled for Tuesday, would allow the casino to serve alcohol at The View, the casino’s steakhouse, at events such as weddings and conferences, and on the gaming floor.

A portion of the revenue from alcohol sales would reportedly go toward funding an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center on the reservation. The casino would be the only site on the reservation that would be permitted to sell and serve alcohol.

The reason given for the vote’s postponement was cited as “further review.” The council announced that representatives will discuss the issue further at the next general assembly, the date of which was not released to the Journal.

Opponents of the proposal gathered yesterday in Fort Totten to express their concerns about introducing alcohol back onto the reservation in any capacity. Spirit Lake has been alcohol-free since a vote decades ago.

Those in favor of the plan cite increased revenue, part of which is planned for the alcohol/drug treatment center, though the exact percentage of profits from alcohol sales to be used for the treatment center has not been announced.

Supporters also say that the new revenue stream would allow the casino to possibly expand and add employees.

A decision on rescheduling the vote is likely by the council’s next meeting.

Big settlement for Spirit Lake Tribe

It was revealed at the Tribal Council’s meeting last month that Spirit Lake Tribe has been awarded $1.73M as a result of a settlement stemming from a 1990 lawsuit.

From the settlement document, Ramah Navajo, et al. v. Jewell:

“In 1990, the Ramah Navajo Chapter brought suit against the Government in the United States District Court of the District of New Mexico claiming that the Department of the Interior (DOI) improperly calculated indirect cost rates for Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act.

In 1993, the District Court certified a class of all Tribes and tribal organizations that have BIA ISDA contracts or compacts. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims covering fiscal year 1994 and later years were not barred by the government’s appropriations law defense.  

The parties have agreed to a proposed Final Settlement Agreement (FSA), which requires Defendants to pay $940,000,000 to settle the remaining claims in this lawsuit. The settled claims are for alleged underpayments of contract support costs by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and/or the Office of Self Governance (OSG) during fiscal years 1994 through 2013.”

Because Spirit Lake Tribe was part of the class action lawsuit, the tribe is entitled to a portion of the settlement, 25 percent of which will go to legal fees. The council recommended that part of the settlement be added to a fund to build a treatment center.

Tribal election update

Lonna Street of St. Michael won the race for Secretary/Treasurer over Nancy Greene-Robinson in an election that was certified on May 2. Street took all districts reporting, St. Michael, Fort Totten, Woodlake and Crowhill, by a tally of 519 votes to 290.

Duane Jackson is the new district representative for St. Michael, having won 179 of 310 votes cast over ReNa Little-Lohnes.
In a race in which the margin of victory was razor-thin, Kimberly Three Irons was elected Fort Totten district representative over Clarise Brownshield. The final vote count was 165-159 in favor of Three Irons.

Council meeting notes

The council shared a water quality study at its April 26 meeting which concluded that the Spirit Lake Tribe’s water system currently meets water quality standards. Lyle Best, who briefed the council on the reservation’s water quality situation, also requested to study the homes of those who use wells for drinking water to check on the quality of those water supplies.

The council agreed to Best’s request. He also asked that the Spirit Lake Health Center, EPA, Tribal Health, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Central Repository, Water Resource and Emergency Management should meet monthly, according to the notes from last month’s meeting.

The council agreed to mandate such a meeting.

Grant funding for the employment and training program on the reservation also came up during the meeting. A representative of the grant awarding program, Ken LeMieux, reportedly inquired as to why the tribe does not teach their language with the grant funding that has already been approved.

Jolene Crosswhite, director of employment & training, said that cultural activities are currently being offered, though a language component is still not part of the plan. LeMieux asked the council to address the findings in his report within 30 days.