Note: Tom Robertson has been the MPR lead in shoring up institutionalized racism for many years as he has refused to cover the problems of Native American Indians. Here, Tom Robertson makes the racist assertion that the Warriors for Justice haven't made any progress among Native American Indians when the facts are such that until now, Robertson has refused to report on any of these struggles for justice and he has refused to report on MPR that over 60 million dollars of public funds has been spent on the Bemidji Regional Event Center where public officials have refused to enforce affirmative action and local and state agencies have refused to even enforce non-discrimination in hiring and in the workplace on this project. Robertson then goes on to allow a racist, anti-labor, crooked, corrupt and undemocratic Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party hack like Michael Meuers to speak for his own racist positions. For years, Minnesota Public Radio, just like the MN DFL, has taken funds from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its members as a payoff for refusing to report on the conditions under which casino workers are forced to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws and ignored the fact that these casinos are being constructed with non-union labor when DFL politicians have lied about this by claiming these casinos are "union constructed." Robertson has never asked DFL politicians or the leaders of the building trades unions to produce the signed union contracts on any of these casino construction jobs that are in fact the product of racist, anti-labor and illegal deals between corrupt politicians, tribal governments, labor leaders and racketeers. So, for years now, the problems of Native American Indians--- with racist unemployment which spins off deep-seated and pervasive racist poverty--- goes ignored by politicians whose goals and objectives are to accumulate larger and larger campaign funds as the problems of all working people go without being resolved. With the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association being a major contributor of campaign contributions to the MNDFL and it and its members being among the largest purchasers of media advertising and underwriting, democracy is being perpetually undermined making citizen participation in the political process more difficult and then "reporters" like the racist Tom Robertson turn around and mock Native American Indians and other working people who are trying to bring forward real solutions to racism, institutionalized racism in all its ugly forms and workers' rights across the board.
How is it that a sign with this message is erected in Squaw Lake, Minnesota; but, its message is ignored by the media as far as casinos are concerned even though some 40,000 casino workers are forced to endure and suffer from the effects of second-hand smoke every single day of their working lives without mention by Tom Robertson and those in the media?
While a lecture and book-signing about "getting America back to work" at the Duluth Labor Temple doesn't address affirmative action and Executive Order #11246 and "reporters" like Tom Robertson let this over-site go without bringing in anyone from the Democratic Party's coalition partner--- the AFL-CIO--- to raise questions?
An all white audience at the Duluth Labor Temple in Duluth, Minnesota listens to Stewart Acuff suggest how to get America Back to work... Acuff in his book (page 83) calls upon all working people to become "warriors for justice." Perhaps the Warriors for Justice should have been invited to this talk and book signing?
MPR could have had a reporter on hand to ask Stewart Acuff questions about what the AFL-CIO intends to do about lack of enforcement of affirmative action but chose not to be on hand to ask this question... but, Tom Robertson goes on to mock the Warriors for Justice as not having the support of the Native American Indian communities in northern Minnesota... perhaps Tom Robertson and Minnesota Public Radio are so racist and such an integral part of institutionalized racism which yields such hefty profits, that it never crossed Mr. Robertson's mind to go out among the people in Native American communities like Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, Bois Forte and Fond du Lac to ask people how they feel about being denied jobs at the Bemidji Regional Event Center and other public works projects, and whether or not they think affirmative action should be enforced... since the Warriors for Justice are the only politicians advocating the enforcement of affirmative action on public works jobs, the results of such a survey by Tom Robertson would give us a much better indicator of the support that the Warriors for Justice have. Tom Robertson is obviously educated enough to understand that even though many smaller parties may not be successful at the polls, they are successful in bringing forward issues and problems in a way that requires the parties in power to right the wrongs and injustices.
As for Sally Fineday, she has been a shill for the John McCarthy and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association for years--- obviously John McCarthy, the rich white man who heads up the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, has a need for an Indian serving at his every beck and call on the county board of commissioners--- just as his DFL candidates Mary Olson and John Persell do in the Minnesota State Legislature. Of course, for John McCarthy, the more candidates he has out raising campaign contributions, the more he stuffs his own pockets after assuming ownership of Tony Doom Enterprises which produces campaign advertising for candidates.
It is fortunate that we have the Warriors for Justice "railing against institutionalized racism" and the poverty it breeds along with all kinds of other social ills because, if not for the Warriors for Justice, institutionalized racism would not be a topic during this election cycle. Already, Warriors for Justice has forced even gubernatorial hopeful Mark Dayton to condemn the failure of Minnesota departments to enforce affirmative action and he has called for the state to go into the casino business where anti-discrimination and no smoking would be enforced. I find it very informational that Tom Robertson in his report here aired twice on Minnesota Public Radio would not mention these facts... but, the, again, this is very institutionalized racism which has propelled concerned people to organize the Warriors for Justice, isn't it?
Again, I ask, why didn't MPR's Tom Robertson ask MN DFL party hack Michael Meuers to address the issues that accumulated under his watch rather than be allowed to belittle the Warriors for Justice?
Nor does Tom Robertson note that it was Michael Meuers who was the primary backer of the crook, Skip Finn who fleeced Indian people and is back into DFL politics, again... this time trying to help Michael Meuers, Sally Fineday and John McCarthy minimize the impact of the Warriors for Justice who, contrary to Michael Meuers' claims that the Warriors for Justice are irrelevant; the very fact that he has to be on radio refuting their impact speaks volumes.
Alan L. Maki
Civic participation on the rise in Indian Countryby Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Civic participation in Indian Country appears to be on the rise.
In Bemidji, there are Native American candidates running for the state Senate and House of Representatives. A Native American is running for Bemidji City Council and another is seeking a seat on the county board.
Among the candidates is Nicole Beaulieu, a 23-year-old member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She's challenging state Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji in House Distict 4A.
"There's a huge gap from the poor people and the people up here that have all the cash and all the money and all the clout, political clout," Beaulieu said. "And that really needs to be changed."
Beaulieu has teamed up with Red Lake Band member Greg Paquin, who is running against State Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, in Senate District 4.
The two challengers share some common interests. They support using affirmative action policies to create more jobs for Native Americans. They rail against what they call "institutional racism."
Native Americans have historically been among the least likely groups to participate in politics. They've only had the right to vote in the United States since 1924.
Historically, Native Americans have aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. On the Red Lake Reservation, for example, close to 90 percent of voters cast ballots for DFL candidates.
But Beaulieu and Paquin are challenging DFL incumbents. When they failed to win the party's endorsement at its local convention, they decided to form their own party. They call it Warriors for Justice.
"They take our votes and they forget us after Election Day," she said. "That's why we started this Warriors for Justice. Because we can take this Native American vote and everybody who feels neglected from the DFL party, and we can put it towards a candidate and a party that's going to actually represent the hardworking people."
It doesn't appear Beaulieu and Paquin are drawing large support from the Native American community. And DFL supporters don't seem worried about a challenge from the fledgling new party.
Michael Meuers, former chairman of the Beltrami County DFL, thinks the party's stronghold in Indian Country is pretty much in tact. Meuers said Native Americans are deeply involved with the DFL party and have held top party leadership posts. He said it's clear the Indian community is becoming more active in politics.
"The Beltrami County DFL gets nine delegates to the state convention, and a majority were Indian this year, which I've never seen before," Meuers said. "They're active, they're showing up, they're casting their votes and they're getting very politically sophisticated."
Meuers said the trend started about 20 years ago, when local Indian reservations recognized they had some potential political power in their voting block.
In 1990, voters in District 4 elected Harold "Skip" Finn to the state Senate, making him one of only a few Native Americans to serve in the Legislature. Finn, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, resigned in 1996 for stealing about a million dollars from the Leech Lake band through a self-insurance scheme.
In 1996, a strong turnout on the Red Lake Reservation helped elect the first Indian county commissioner in Minnesota. That Beltrami County seat is still held by an Indian, largely because of the Native vote.
Since then, voters elected an Indian as county sheriff. They elected an Indian to the school board. In Cass Lake, they elected that city's first Indian mayor.
The key to the new-found political clout in Indian Country has been a very deliberate effort to get tribal members to the polls, said Sally Fineday, executive director of the Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota. The non-profit organization aims to empower Native Americans through civic engagement.
Fineday is also running for a seat on the Beltrami County board. She said reservations in northern Minnesota have discovered they are significant swing voters.
"We're beginning to understand that, you know what? If we actually do this, holy cow, we actually have people that are coming to us and they want to know what are our opinions about our community," she said. "We are definitely increasing Native Americans' interest, and we're definitely engaging Native American communities in rural areas to become more actively involved."
The Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota works with most Indian reservations in the state, helping them organize voter registration drives, get out the vote rallies and non-partisan door-to-door campaigns.
Nationally, the National Congress of American Indians is pursuing similar goals.
There's also a partisan group called the Indigenous Democratic Network, commonly known as INDN's List. Kalyn Free is president of the Oklahoma-based organization, which got its start in 2005 and sponsors annual camps to teach Native American candidates how to win elections and raise funds.
Free said the network aims to increase the number of American Indians running for and winning elected offices at the local, state and national level. The organization primarily supports Democratic candidates.
"Since we started, we have helped elect 45 Indians to state and local office across the country," Free said. "We have a 70 percent win rate and, although we're never satisfied, we're very pleased with what we've done in the last election cycle. This election cycle we have a little over 50 tribal members that we are monitoring across the country."
Free thinks Indian Country is in the midst of a political awakening as voter participation and candidate interest increases.
She credits President Barack Obama for helping spark more political interest within Indian communities. In 2008, then-candidate Obama campaigned heavily for the Indian vote and visited several Indian reservations.
Obama's administration has placed tribal members in key positions and has been open to hearing from tribal leaders about Indian concerns, Free said.
"I think that is very inspiring to Indian Country, to say, 'Okay, we can rise to the highest levels by flexing our political muscle,'" Free said. "But we still need, we still have so far to go. I think there's 37 states in the country that don't have a single tribal member serving in the state Senate or the state House. Wisconsin is one of those. Minnesota is one of those."
There are roughly 35,000 eligible American Indian voters in Minnesota. But there are few statistics for how many of them actually show up at the polls. Several Native organizations are working to compile those numbers.