Fond du Lac Band contradicts Rep. Pete Stauber, who says he’s ‘heard out’ tribes

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“I have personally spoken to our tribal leaders, and I’ve heard them out on this issue,” Stauber said during the Wednesday, Feb. 17, interview. “They know that I remain committed to working with them and continuing to build upon the strong relationship that we’ve developed.”

But the local Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa disputed the congressman’s claims, saying Stauber, R-Hermantown, does not communicate with them in any meaningful way, and called his efforts “failure.”

Through its spokesperson, the band said Stauber declined an offer to sit down with its leadership council to discuss U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be President Joe Biden’s interior secretary overseeing federal lands and natural resources.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for the Interior Secretary, speaks after Biden announced her nomination among another round of nominees and appointees for his administration in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 19.  (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for the Interior Secretary, speaks after Biden announced her nomination among another round of nominees and appointees for his administration in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 19. (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)

Confirmation would make Haaland the first Native American to serve on a presidential cabinet.

When the Fond du Lac Band offered to have Stauber meet in person with its Reservation Business Committee, Stauber’s office told the band he was “only available for one-on-one phone calls,” Fond du Lac spokeswoman Rita Aspinwall said.

The band declined phone calls with Stauber.

“In Representative Stauber’s years in office, he has failed to give the courtesy of notifying the band of any proposal directly impacting the tribes,” Aspinwall said in a written statement. “His office has failed to set up tribal consultations on a quarterly basis. Ultimately, he has failed to consult with Minnesota tribes on various matters affecting Indian Country.”

Stauber’s office described Fond du Lac and Bois Forte leadership as having declined to talk, saying the congressman has read joint and individual tribal letters on the matter, and spoken with tribal lobbyists as well as executives from the Mille Lacs and Leech Lake bands of Ojibwe, and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

“The congressman has an open-door policy and looks forward to talking with tribal leadership any time they are willing,” Stauber spokeswoman Kelsey Mix said.

Stauber, who represents Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, supports pipeline expansion and the advent of copper-nickel mining in Northeastern Minnesota — causes opposed by Haaland and many other Native Americans.

Stauber and Haaland, D-N.M., serve together on the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee.

He distrusts her politics, and described her as “very, very radical,” a term he often uses for Democratic colleagues.

In January, he wrote a letter to the White House calling for the withdrawal of Haaland’s nomination despite the fact that the five tribes in his district were supportive, elated even, with Haaland’s nomination as Biden’s interior secretary.

Haaland’s confirmation hearing is next week.

Stauber said he couldn’t “turn a blind eye” to Haaland’s support for the clean energy legislation known as the Green New Deal, or her positions against pipelines and copper-nickel mining, though Stauber incorrectly presents Haaland as opposed to mining in general.

“I can’t turn a blind eye to her having joined pipeline protestors, and she opposes fracking and drilling on public lands,” Stauber said. “She has championed legislation that would halt mining in Northeastern Minnesota. Mining is a bridge to a better future.”

He said he wrote his letter in January in hopes the Biden administration would have nominated someone who “recognized we could both preserve our environment and responsibly develop the resources that power our economy.”

On Trump, Minnesota governorship

During the interview, Stauber declined to say if he’d be supportive of a political future for twice-impeached former President…



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