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

Darrell G. Seki Sr.: Doing what is best for Red Lake


Throughout the process, the Red Lake Tribal Council and I have one goal: to do what is best for Red Lake. Once the pipelines were built in trespass decades ago, without our knowledge, our options became limited. As tribal chairman it is my responsibility to uphold and adhere to all tribal laws, codes and Council resolutions. In 2010, tribal resolution 199-10 was passed that mandated that the Chairman coordinate ongoing negotiations with Enbridge. The resolution had many important mandates that had to be adhered to, including but not limited to: any final agreement was subject to approval by the Tribal Council, also included in the resolution is the expressed interest in pursuing a land exchange for a parcel of suitable land that would be of greater future value to the tribe.

Some have a popular misconception that Red Lake is selling land; that is not true. In fact, we are swapping land as we cannot, as an Indian nation, sell land without congressional approval. By contrast, the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be the only approval agency in a land exchange. Another popular misconception is that we can stop the oil lines from continuing to transport oil. Any action we take will never stop the oil from flowing and the danger of pollution to that land will always be a threat as only a small portion of the line will actually be moved.

At the end of the day, Red Lake really had two legitimate choices; first, can a land exchange provide the tribe a different parcel of land that is more valuable to Red Lake culturally, geographically and economically? Second, can Red Lake use the money Enbridge has agreed to pay to improve the lives of its members for generations to come?

Of course we can. I firmly believe that the benefits of this agreement can help the tribe restore some of the land that was taken from us over the years. Red Lake will definitely receive land in excess of the value of the land exchanged, turning this trespass into a long-term benefit for our tribe.

The Tribal Council considered that land exchanges have been completed in the past by prior Tribal Councils; and each prior land exchange put Red Lake in a superior position as a result of the exchange. The present land exchange will definitely put Red Lake in a superior position considering the size and quality of the parcel exchanged, compared to the multiple parcels of land that the tribe will acquire with the compensation.

We are planning to have more community meetings to discuss what economic projects our members want us to pursue with the remaining money we choose not to use on land acquisitions. I am excited to say that we used our sovereignty along with all due diligence to do what is best for Red Lake. That is the Red Lake way.

Darrell G. Seki Sr. is chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Council.


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