I feel I must speak up regarding the recommendation of the IRRRB which recently decided not to fund a grant application to the Fond du Lac Reservation because the Tribe has taken a stand against mining. There are so many problems with this decision! But here are two reasons I believe the IRRRB should reconsider.
1. The reason we even have special taconite tax funds to disperse in our region is to recapture wealth taken from our area by steel corporations who mine our land. Natural resources are irreplaceable and when they are gone, the profit making corporations and the jobs they have awarded will go with them. So, taconite taxes are a strategy to help our region diversify and not be impoverished when mining comes to an end. The money that IRRRB is able to distribute is not intended to support mining. It is intended to help the region develop diverse economic resources. It was meant to be a counter balance to mining.
2. The second reason I believe IRRRB should reconsider the Fond du Lac request is that all the mining and all the ore extracted from this region was removed from land that was taken by white settlers from Indian people to begin with and passed on to their descendants, us. That is simply undeniable. To be able to share in the tax benefits gleaned from excavating our land, Indian land, is barely just. But it is less unjust than withholding those funds because of a narrow perspective on the issue of mining. Many capable, dedicated citizens disagree about the environmental safety of mining endeavors.
Tribal entities should not be less deserving of taconite tax funds than other municipal and county organizations. It would serve justice and the people of our region to see the IRRRB reconsider this decision and support with similar measure the economic diversity and wellbeing of tribal jurisdictions.