Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Robert Desjarlait
Duluth News Tribune 

Nelson wrongly claims Ojibwe support for mining


In the past, St. Louis Commissioner Keith Nelson has purported to be part Indian, with ties from the Red Lake Ojibwe reservation. He also has reportedly said Native people support mining.

For the record, Nelson is not enrolled. Although the Nelson surname is on the Red Lake tribal rolls, Commissioner Nelson is not among those listed. If he is related to the Nelsons at Red Lake, his ties are tenuous at best. Without a tribal enrollment card, he can’t claim to be Indian, let alone speak for them.

Nelson is known to represent the majority wishes of his constituents, as he has long claimed. He is on the record, saying, “If the people in my district had voted for slavery and I was representing them, I would have voted for it.” With that kind of mindset, is Nelson assuming he has the support of his Ojibwe constituents? Does Nelson assume that Ojibwe people in northern Minnesota are going to place their manoomin (wild rice) at risk?

Nelson needs to tread carefully in making assumptions of Ojibwe support for mining. His claim of Native heritage is nothing more than subterfuge to gain perceived support from the Ojibwe community so he can pass non-ferrous resolutions. Unfortunately for Nelson, that support is not forthcoming.

Robert Desjarlait

Red Lake Reservation, Minn.

The writer is a co-founder of Protect Our Manoomin (


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