Tribal leaders meet at Minnesota Capitol for Sovereignty Day

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:14 PM CDT
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SAINT PAUL, MN. (Northern News Now) - Tribal sovereignty is an issue at the core of Minnesota’s eleven tribal nations, and today legislators in St. Paul attempted to honor that legacy.

Tribal Leaders from around the state convened on the House floor Monday, March 13 to discuss the importance of protecting tribal communities and their sovereignty.

The first legislative Sovereignty Day was held back in 2019.

At the time there were plans to have another in 2021, but the pandemic prevented that from happening.

Monday’s event was a chance for legislators and tribal leaders to come together once again.

Tribal leaders thanked state lawmakers for their invitation to the Capitol.

While at the Capitol they explained what they see as inequities that exist within Minnesota’s tribal communities.

Tribal leaders expressed the importance of recognizing the disparities that tribes deal with on a regular basis.

“We have the highest disparities, we have the highest rates of cancer, we have the highest rates of out-of-home placements, we have the highest rates of incarceration. It’s due to historical trauma, it’s due to a lot of things. It’s due to a lack of funding, lack of resources,” said Cathy Chavers, Tribal Chair with the Bois Forte Band.

After presentations from each of the 11 tribal leaders, members of the legislature and those leaders attended breakout sessions to discuss things like public safety, the environment, and the legalization of cannabis.

Monday’s event comes just days after the Minnesota House passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, would codify the Indian Child Welfare Act into Minnesota State Law as the federal act faces a Supreme Court decision later this year.