Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Human Rights Day: Another Long List of Violations in 2008

From: Bill Hilty [mailto:Rep.Bill.Hilty@house.mn]
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 4:34 PM
To: Alan Maki
Subject: Your msg: Big Bog State Rec Question


The Big Bog State Recreation Area received $1,600,000 in the bonding bill this year (CH 179, Sec. 7, subdivision 23). The amount was for "improvements at the Big Bog State Recreation Area, including betterments to the contact station and forest restoration."

Let me know if you need anything else.

Rebekah Smith
Legislative Assistant

Request for further information and action---

Rebekah Smith and Representative Hilty;

Thank you for this information you have provided.

I write you today on the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights because the issue at hand is of great relevance to our celebrating this document as we work to assure its full and complete implementation.

I need not lecture you because you know and understand all to well the severe abuses of human rights First Nation Peoples have been subjected to... the issue of peat mining in the Big Bog is just one more in a long line of these human rights abuses which seems to be unending when it comes to the plight of First Nation peoples.

In fact, the human rights abuses faced by the peoples of the Red Lake Nation for centuries are well documented and if there is a text-book case to be made for the violation of the sovereign and human rights of a people it is the history of the shameful and despicable treatment of the people of the Red Lake Nation by the state and federal governments and a myriad of state agencies and bureaucracies not to mention the daily racist indignities the people of the Red Lake Nation are so often subjected to as they seek a better life and an improved standard of living.

Nor do I have to explain to you the complexities of a people striving to survive cooperatively as dog-eat-dog system of "free enterprise" thwarts and stymies all initiatives taken by the people of the Red Lake Nation to survive--- over the years, the people of the Red Lake Nation have endured insults from right-wing conservative politicians who view their sovereign nation derogatorily and derisively as "a welfare state," "a small socialist island in the north woods of Minnesota," and "America's little Cuba," etcetera--- depending on the mood of these racist bigots and to what self-serving political ends they can twist their bigoted musings and stupid racist mutterings.

The examples of Mr. Tony Cornish and Mr. Jim Abeler in the current period are only a few such examples of such backwards and racist thinking reaching into the Minnesota legislature. Of course, Mr. Abeler apologized; and Mr. Cornish never even has had the common human decency to apologize. Perhaps if the Indian Nations were represented in the Minnesota State Legislature and on Minnesota's Congressional delegation this racism and indifference to racism would be corrected. Shameful as it is that there is not one single Native American in the Minnesota State Legislature or among our Congressional delegation in spite of the large Native American population whose needs go unmet and unrepresented in spite of the existence of such atrocious problems and important documents like the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human calling for full representation and participation of all members of society.

I think you will agree with me that if Minnesota had just one single Native American sitting in the Minnesota State Legislature the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog which threatens the very existence and survival of the Red Lake Nation and its people would never have been issued; now would this racist boondoggle have ever seen the light of day.

More information is required; and I would like to advise you of a new dimension and concern regarding this project of peat mining in the Big Bog. As you are fully aware, the fate and the very existence of the Red Lake Nation and its people are intricately, inseparably connected, woven and tied together. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. The United Nations has for a long time recognized the plight of peoples as connected to the ecosystems that support their continued existence as sovereign nations.

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even a school child reading this Declaration and then learning of the "permitting process" authorizing this peat mining in the Big Bog can understand the flagrant and intentional violations of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights taking place here in North Minnesota.

We had a meeting in Red Lake last night, initiated by the people of Red Lake who are growing increasingly concerned that their tribal officials and state officials along with the Upper Red Lake "Friends of the Big Bog" and federal public officials and governmental agencies have excluded them from the decision-making process as to the future of the Big Bog which has been scientifically established in the most definitive scientific work on the Big Bog in the "Patterned Peat Lands of Minnesota" edited by Wright, et. al. and used in every college and university course on natural resource management contains an entire chapter on the relationship of the Big Bog to the very survival of the Red Lake Nation and its peoples.

To make matters worse, the letter you have seen allegedly authored by then Chairman Gerald "Butch" Brun, which I obtained from Pegg Julson--- then head of the MN DNR Littlefork Forestry Division (she was demoted for providing me a copy of this letter from Gerald "Butch" Brun; a letter I then publicly distributed--- a letter immediately and publicly repudiated by the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council after I gave the Council the letter which made the position of the Red Lake Nation very clear as stated through resolution and letter as being the exact same position as was articulated in the "Patterned Peat Lands of Minnesota" which used a statement from then Chairman of the Red Lake Nation, Roger Jourdain, who clearly and forcefully articulated this position on behalf of the Red Lake Nation for over fifty years which remains the guiding position to this very day.

A now retired Red Lake Tribal administrative bureaucrat who was part of the Administration of Gerald "Butch" Brun was at the meeting last night and speculated based on the fact he would have seen this letter had it gone through the proper channels as required by the Rules and Laws and Procedures of the Red Lake Nation and is very familiar with Gerald "Butch" Brun's handwriting, could not say for certain if the signature was the handwriting of Gerald "Butch" Brun. As you are aware, Chairman Gerald "Butch" Brun suffered a severe stroke during his brief tenure which could account for the handwriting ambiguity; however, as I have long thought based upon the reaction when I first confronted Chairman Brun in his Red Lake office concerning this "letter" and given his enraged denial in writing the letter... it is now speculated that another individual, namely Roger Head, may have written this letter and forged Chairman Brun's signature to it.

At this point, this is speculation as to what happened; however, given that ALL SCIENTIFIC DATA then, and presently available--- including ALL data from the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (which hid very important data that the Black River was already contaminated with mercury before the permit to authorize this peat mining was authorized; including concealing this fact during the EIS process)... but, most importantly, the people of the sovereign Red Lake Nation and their Tribal Government who have a long-standing opposition to peat mining in the Big Bog which is well documented and well known to every single politician in the State of Minnesota, they were not consulted with as required by state and federal laws or the intent of those laws; I am therefore, again, requesting that you broach this issue with the entire MN DFL Legislative caucus at the federal and state level--- both representatives and senators, and in light of the new concerns raised over the "letter" from Red Lake Nation Chairman Gerald "Butch" Brun which "dropped" Red Lake's historic opposition to peat mining in the Big Bog" which we ALL know was the ONLY reason this racist and environmentally destructive project was ever permitted in the first place.

Without this "letter" from Red Lake Nation Chairman Gerald "Butch" Brun this permit to mine peat in the Big Bog never would have been authorized; you know this; I know this; every single politician in this state knows this.

Someone in government, upon receiving this "letter" from Chairman Brun had a responsibility to go before the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council, the sovereign government of the sovereign Red Lake Nation; and knowing of this historic opposition should have asked what was going on.

In fact, everyone in government, instead of demonstrating a proper degree of concern and a questioning attitude, tried to hide and conceal this very important "letter."

Had it not been for the diligence of one single person employed in the bureaucracy of Minnesota government, namely, Pegg Julson--- who lost her job because she took her job and the responsibilities of her job seriously--- still today, we would never have known about the existence of this "letter" even though I requested this letter from United States Congressman James Oberstar, United States Congressman Colin Peterson, Gene Merriam who at the time was Commissioner of Natural Resources, the Koochiching County Commission and from Paul Nevanen, Director of KEDA, who we now know removed this "letter" , now allegedly, from Red Lake Nation Chairman Gerald "Butch" Brun from the file before providing me access to the casino and peat mining venture files... an illegal act on the part of KEDA Director Paul Nevanen which leads me to think he was probably mired in the scheme to embezzle public funds, too.

I am firmly convinced that the sloppy and shoddy record keeping systems of both the Koochiching County Board of Commissioners and the Koochiching Economic Development Authority are intended, not only to keep important records out of the hands of citizens so they can be an educated part of the decision-making process as called for by the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights; but, such shoddy record keeping is done in order to cover up embezzlement and other criminal wrong-doing.

It is frequently the case where attacks on democracy go hand-in-hand with governmental corruption... so frequent in fact that it is safe to say that corruption and anti-democratic measures are integrally fused and connected with the result ending up as a racist attack on people of color--- as is the case here.

To add to all of this, former Commissioner of the MN DNR--- Gene Merriam (a former state senator), to this very day--- denies ever authorizing this peat mining permit. Worse yet, he claims no knowledge of peat mining in the Big Bog even though the permit to mine this peat claims that he authorized it.

So, we have here on the one hand, a very suspect "letter" from a very important Tribal government official is now dead who, while living, became enraged when asked why he signed this "letter;" and, we have a still living former Commissioner of Natural Resources, Gene Merriam, who, according to this permit authorized it but steadfastly claiming any and all knowledge of anything to do with this peat mining and adamantly states he did not authorize the permit!

And, in face of these two very important facts, and entire state legislature and the governor are allowing peat mining in the Big Bog to proceed as if they are completely oblivious to the consequences.

This permit to mine peat in the Big Bog in the Pine Island State Forest to the huge Canadian multi-national corporation--- Berger, Ltd.--- should be immediately revoked; the sheer corruption this project is mired in requires no less; respect for the human rights of the people of the Red Lake Nation requires this revocation of the permit.

The terms of the permit are such, and specifically stated that the Minnesota Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources has the discretionary authority to revoke this permit up until the time the first building foundation has been poured.

I am requesting that you gather together legislators without haste to determine what needs to be done to right this grave injustice now rising to the level of violating the human rights of the people of the Red Lake Nation.

I am sure Minnesota legislators, federal and state, will now be hearing from the grassroots peoples of the Red Lake Nation in support of their Tribal Governments resolution to state and federal public officials and government agencies and bureaucracies.

The head of the MN DNR Little Fork Forestry office tells me that full-scale land clearing is to commence right now. This must be halted; the government officials at all levels responsible for the corrupt manner in orchestrating this dirty racist deed must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law with full restitution of all tax-payer expenditures and those funds from the taconite tax be fully repaid.

As you are aware, this peat mining was first conceived as a "deal" concocted behind closed doors as an "exchange" for the Red Lake Nation receiving favorable consideration for building and operating a casino in International Falls and Koochiching County being able to promote economic growth and jobs. No matter how this peat mining is viewed, from the perspective of those wanting to mine the peat to those who initially pushed the idea of a casino... both projects are now exposed as the fiasco they were right from the start... the casino deal has fallen through (for whatever reason--- ostensibly the overwhelming majority of the people of International Falls and Koochiching County are opposed to the casino while Red Lake the majority of the people of the Red Lake Nation and most all Minnesotans are opposed to this peat mining boondoggle proceeding in the Big Bog in the Pine Island State Forest.

Further, I remind you that tax-payers and the taconite tax fund have been swindled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars--- many of those dollars attached to this peat mining project--- in the now fully exposed theft of public funds through the Koochiching Economic Development Authority by one Brenda Long. I would point out the Director of the KEDA systematically fought all of my requests to examine KEDA documents pertaining to this peat mining for casino venture.

Had I been allowed to examine these documents as requested, including requests made through the Data Practices Act and FOIA, hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars and taconite tax funds could have been saved and used for real socially needed and necessary programs and projects including alleviating the deplorable poverty of people living on the Red Lake Nation Reservation.

To think that what is perhaps a continuing multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme was going on, undetected, almost from the very beginning of this peat mining for casino project when I first sought access to these files until the permit to mine peat was authorized is nothing short of deplorable and shameful.

In denying citizens access to important information required to oppose the permitting process--- including access to the letter allegedly submitted by Red Lake Nation Chairman Gerald Butch Brun and the finances of this project. I would further note, that even after I won the right to access to KEDA files, Director Nevanen withdrew the Brun "letter" and financial information from KEDA files and the Secretary of the Koochiching County Board in complete complicity with all members of the County Board with-held this information from me and added further to the complexities of this case as they brought in the office of the Koochiching County Sheriff to threaten me with arrest as I attempted to deliver a written request for these records under the Data Practices Act and the FOIA.

(And it was not just I be denied this important public information, because, as you are fully aware, I shared all information on this dirty racist deal with everyone in a way that has empowered them to fully participate in the decision-making process--- something state legislators should have been doing in accordance with the fiduciary responsibility that comes along with being elected to serve the people. Just as I shared this information you provided with people already at Red Lake and beyond.)

I don't think you will find anyone who really believes that the Koochiching Economic Development Authority's Brenda Long acted alone in swindling tax-payers and the taconite-tax fund in this embezzlement scheme. It was only she and Director Paul Nevanen working in the small two-person operation in a very small two-room office where anyone with the least little bit of business acumen and basic understanding of accounting practices with a third grader's knowledge of addition and subtraction concerning a mere handful of transactions would have, and should have, been able to stop this criminal embezzlement scheme for which tax-payers and the taconite-tax fund have not, and probably never will be, reimbursed.

In addition, I call to your attention the fact that at one point, in the records of KEDA (from the minutes as recorded by none other than swindler and embezzler extraordinaire Brenda Long), these perpetrators of this very racist peat mining for casino scheme lament the fact that "only" $350,000.00 dollars was spent on one of the infra-structure projects on initial upgrading on the road to the peat mining site and that they had another $150,000.00 to spend out of the $500,000.00 allocation for straightening out a few curves in a gravel road and even after the straightening of the curves took place and the "improvements were completed per the requirements of the Koochiching County Engineer, further work was supposedly done on these curves to spend the rest of the allocation!

And we wonder why Minnesota is in debt up to its eye-balls to the tune of billions of dollars! With swindlers and embezzlers like Brenda Long having access to public funds it is no wonder no one can come up with a full accounting of our State's real debt.

Again, I implore you to step in and put an end to what can only be described as a racist boondoggle and a fiasco financed unwittingly by Minnesota and federal tax-payers.

I would also call to your attention the United States Congressman James Oberstar is denying his involvement in this racist peat mining boondoggle even though the head of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul, Mr. Robert Whiting, will tell you he authorized this permit to mine peat only as a result of "congressional arm twisting." Robert Whiting identifies Congressman James Oberstar as the "congressional arm twister."

I need not remind you of the pernicious and racist role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vis-à-vis their activities regarding Red Lake and the Red Lake Nation and the associated ecosystems over many decades; the environmental damage the done by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to this important ecosystem is well documented on their own web site and tax-payers are now footing the bill to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to remedy the destruction to an ecosystem which was being protected well by the people of the Red Lake Nation until U.S Army Corps of Engineer intervention... this, coupled with the depletion of walleye and other fish stocks and now the massive timber harvests laying vast areas of the Red Lake Nation to waste as corporations plunder in quest of greater profits while Red Lake's schools deteriorate, the housing question persists, people cannot afford to heat their homes and joblessness on this reservation is a complete disgrace as drug pushing and casinos create problems... it is with this entire scenario in mind that it is on this day in which we exhorted to foster the goals of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that I implore you, once again, to do something to get this permit to mine peat revoked by discussing this issue with your colleagues, who, on this issue the MN DFL should be in complete control as far as getting the permit to mine peat revoked, if not permanently, than at least on a temporary basis until all of this can be examined fully with proper input from the people of the Red Lake Nation... respect for human rights, and the dignity of the people of the Red Lake Nation and their future existence requires no less.

Again, if you could provide me with the complete expenditure allocated by the State of Minnesota for the establishment of the Big Bog State Park, the Big Bog Beach and the Big Bog Interpretive Center including the Boardwalk, this would be appreciated; including all pertinent legislative actions by name and statute number.

We really need to know the complete expenditures made by the tax-payers of Minnesota for the complete project because this project has been carried out with the stated intended purpose of educating the public on the need to protect the Big Bog and, supposedly, to educate Minnesotans and visitors to our state on the importance of the people of the Red Lake Nation in protecting the Big Bog for centuries and the importance of the Big Bog to the continued existence of the Red Lake Nation and its people. An interconnection established and confirmed by the people of the Red Lake Nation and confirmed by scientists at every level of governmental bureaucracy then rejected for political expediency serving corporate interests.

Once again we see the threats to democracy when the Minnesota Legislature sits in silence and turns a blind eye to this kind of racist injustice embodied in this peat mining for casino venture. Everyone loses except the Canadian corporation which will truck away the profits compliments of Minnesota and federal tax-payers.

Please confirm that you have received this e-mail.

Again, thanking you for your assistance in this matter;


Alan L. Maki
Writing on behalf of "Save Our Bog"