Media Contact: Lovett 343-7445
For Immediate Release: March 21, 1980

A report on current governmental problems on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota:., prepared at the request of Interior's Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Sidney Mills, has been distributed to members of the Tribal Council of the Red Lake Band of Chippewas, Mills said today.

The report was done by Robert Bennett, a former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Graham Holmes, a retired BIA official. They were asked in January by Mills to meet with tribal officials and other members of the Band to assess "problems that plague the reservation during the current governmental crisis."

The reservation has suffered from violence and dissension since last spring when the tribal council voted Mrs. Stephanie Hanson from her elected role as tribal treasurer. Her supporters reacted by destroying tribal buildings and equipment, private homes and other property valued at an estimated $4 million. Although Secretary of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus determined that the tribal council lacked authority to remove Mrs. Hanson, the council has not allowed her to resume the ·Office. The lack of a treasurer has forced suspension of funding for several tribal contracts and grants.

The Bennett-Holmes report said that the "reservation is polarized into two groups: those supporting the Constitution Committee (backers of Mrs. Hanson) and those supporting the Tribal Council." The Constitution Committee group, according to the report, alleges that there have been "arrogant abuses of tribal powers, including failure to follow the (tribal) Constitution and applicable rules and regulations." On the other side, the Tribal Council charges that "failure of the Federal Government to support the Tribal Government and control lawlessness on the reservation is undermining the Tribe's sovereignty ·and ability to function."