Fond du Lac Follies: Cousin Leo Peterson has always been my hero

News From Indian Country November 2010

Fond du Lac Follies motored to Cloquet for the monthly open meeting of the Reservation Business Committee.

Among other things I learned the National Indian Gaming Commission will be studying the dispute between the Rez and the City of Duluth. The Tribal Council seems happy that NIGC is going to look at the history and the contract that covers the Fond du Luth Casino in Duluth.

NIGC is going to look at how the profits are distributed.

As I recall my tribal history I remember how they first started off with the contract with the City of Duluth. The Rez got a quarter of the profits, the City got a quarter and a new entity, the Joint Economic Development Commission got the remaining half. The Commission was formed with people from Fond du Lac Reservation and people from Duluth. They envisioned projects in the City and on the Reservation. It was brought up the NIGC and they decided we were supposed to get 70% of the profits.

It was determined the City of Duluth would get 19% of the profits annually. The Rez had given the City over 75 million since Fond du Luth has been open. The Rez began holding the 19%, The City sued and the judge decided the City should get the money. The Rez counter-sued and said the City hadn’t lived up to their word in the contract. Therefore Fond du Lac wants all the money back. The total is almost a hundred million dollars. If Fond du Lac wins ...

In other news the Fond du Lac RBC talked about the casino restructuring. One other issue was blood quantum. One Fonjalacker questioned the current method in use. Chairwoman Diver responded by saying those questions would be addressed when the Constitution was reformed. The Fonjalacker reminded the Chair we have been talking about Constitutional Reform for over 25 years.

I hadn’t been to a RBC meeting in quite a while and I learned that the old shouting, swearing and threatening meetings are long gone. This one seemed like it was a group of friends talking about their mutual future.

*****

Coming from a large extended family means I go to a lot of funerals. There were two deaths in our community in the last month.

I remember talking with my cousin Sylvia Smith one time. How are we cousins you might ask? Well, her dad was my grandma’s brother. The subject was boarding schools. She attended Flandreau when she was a little girl. So, Sylvia and her chums decided to run away from the school. It was a very dark night when they began walking across the prairie. Sylvia was leading and she said it was too dark to see her hands so they walked real slow. It was quiet in the night until Sylvia walked into a cow. The quiet ended because the cow bellowed and Sylvia screamed. Her chums screamed when they heard her scream. The girls turned around and ran back towards the boarding school. We both laughed when she ended her story.

Cousin Leo Peterson has always been my hero because of his quiet nature and bravery. He was about seven years older than me. How are we cousins you might ask? Well, his dad and my other grandma were brother and sister. I knew he had served in the US Army as a paratrooper. He continued the family tradition of serving in the military. Because of his example I joined the US Marines as soon as I turned 18. I didn’t want to jump out of an airplane, I wanted to jump into the Marines.

I was always told by my grandparents how I was related to different people in the community. I find myself doing that now with my children and grandchildren. Just a gentle reminder my time to die is coming.

*****

By the time you read this the elections are over. Which candidate succeeded in the Governor’s race? It doesn’t matter, there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat, the Republican, or the Independent candidate. Just three white guys wearing suits and ties. They all want to begin gambling on a statewide basis. This is all in the interest of leveling the playing field or some other political phrase that means Indians lose.

I thought the gaming compacts we signed with the state were supposed to be perpetual. I guess that word means about 25 years.

What is a new white whine? I thought-We want a casino too. Then I remembered that joke was so old the first time I heard it I kicked the slats out of my crib. A Fonjalcker said I didn’t have a crib, must have kicked the sticks out of my blanket swing.

*****

Mii sa iw

The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to represent this newspaper or anyone else. Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016
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