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Two Idaho tribes get U.S. Justice Dept. grants for law enforcement, safety

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded $1.9 million in grants to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho to "enhance law enforcement practices and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts." The grants are for eight specific aims: Public safety and community policing; methamphetamine enforcement; justice systems relating to alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; programs targeting violence against women; programs targeting elder abuse; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, who announced the grants today, said, "I am pleased to see such significant federal grant support to these two Idaho tribes. The U.S. Attorney's office is committed to working closely with and supporting public safety in Indian country." You can read the full announcement here.

Idaho tribes look to federalize their police to bridge jurisdiction gaps

Federal authorities say jurisdictional gaps are hampering law enforcement in Indian country, so they're working with three Idaho tribes, including the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, to federalize tribal police officers and let them issue federal citations to non-Indians on the reservation for certain minor offenses. Once the lengthy process is completed - likely in time for next summer's boating season - non-tribal members who are boating on the southern third of Lake Coeur d'Alene and violate boating laws could get tickets issued by tribal officers and backed by the federal court. The southern third of the lake belongs to the tribe; the U.S. Supreme Court decided that in 2001.

The other two tribes working with the U.S. Attorney's office and the federal courts to federalize their officers are the Nez Perce and the Shoshoshone-Bannocks; you can read my full story here.

Carlson: Mathesons Back In Power

Former Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman and Casino Executive (1994-2006) David Matheson, is back in a seat of prominence, his old job as Casino executive, after five years of acrimonious litigation full of charges and counter-charges the press shouldn’t repeat because there were no verdicts and no real conclusions. Any observer of Native Americans, or anyone who has business or political dealings with tribes as an entity quickly learns the internal politics of any tribe are as Byzantine and as complex as any politics anywhere. If one has not been raised in that culture one cannot begin to understand the machinations. … Suffice it to say to outward appearances the Matheson family is back in the saddle of real power. Whether that is at the expense of some other powerful family, which is now out, who outside can say?/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Chronicles. More here. (SR file photo/Kathy Plonka: David Matheson in previous stint running casino)

Question: How much involvement have you had with the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe?

Fired CEO Regains Top Casino Job

The Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council has filled the top position at its casino in Worley, Idaho, with a tribal member who was fired from the same job and sued by the tribe five years ago for alleged breach of fiduciary duties. On Monday, David Matheson was named CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel, a position he held from 1994 until his forced ouster in 2006. “The Tribal Council felt that Dave Matheson was the most qualified candidate interviewed and that the time was right to offer Dave a second chance,” read a statement issued by the council on Monday. Neither Matheson nor tribal Chairman Chief Allan was available for comment on the apparent reconciliation/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.


Expanded Resort Beautiful In & Out

While Charlotte Nilson loves the open feeling and the space at the expanded Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel, it's the natural aesthetics that most caught her eye. "We're beautiful inside and out," the tribal council member said Monday following the grand opening ceremony to celebrate the $75 million project. Plenty of praise and thanks were given out during the hourlong event attended by about 200 people, including community, business and government leaders/Bill Buley, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.  (Coeur d'Alene Tribe photo of Chairman Chief Allan)

Question: How has the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe enriched your life?

Coeur d’Alenes Dedicate Expansion

According to promotional materials, Hn'ya'(pqi'n'n (no, my cat did not just sit on my kepyboard, that's really what it's called) captures "the best of each season", and uses "fresh local ingredients to prepare each dish from scratch." It's "a fun atmosphere delivering comfort food with a twist". Nearly as twisted as your tongue as you try to say Hn'ya'(pqi'n'n, then give up and just call it by its English translation, 'the gathering place". Items listed among the Chef's Choice items on their menu include a "Butter-basted Ground Short Rib Burger", "Idaho Potatoes and Beer-battered Fish and Chips" and "Handmade Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese Sauce"/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.

Question: Have you bothered to learn the names and pronunciations of places that use Coeur d'Alene Indian language names, like Q'emiln in Post Falls and Yap-Keehn-Um Beach at North Idaho College?

Steakhouse ‘Stand Before the Fire’ a new attraction at the CDA Tribal Resort Casino

Kobe beef raised in Idaho will take center plate on of the menu of the new steakhouse at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Casino, in Worley.

This photo shows the entryway to what's now called Ts'elumsm Steakhouse. The tribal name means "Stand Before the Fire," and that title fits the location. The 120-seat steakhouse will have an open grill kitchen area for visitors to see their food prepared.

The steakhouse and the rest of the $75 million expansion at the casino and resort will be showcased in Monday's grand opening.

There's a daily story in Thursday's Spokesman-Review with more information about the expansion and other amenities.

Vestal: Fox’s Stossel Short On Facts

Chief Allan has heard it all his life. Why do you Indians get so much help? Free this, free that, a check every month. Why do you have it so good? “My whole life, everywhere, going to elementary school, going to middle school, going to high school, going to college … I always heard, ‘Why do you guys get all that (funding)? Why do you get those monthly checks?’ ” said Allan, the chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. And so, when Allan heard Fox News bloviator John Stossel’s piece, “Freeloading Doesn’t Help the Freeloaders” – about the negative effects on tribes of the government’s “help” for them – it chapped his hide. Stossel didn’t mention the fictional monthly checks, but he managed to drag out every other element of the arguments Allan’s heard all his life/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Will John Stossel or Fox News respond to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's complaint re: Stossel's stereotyping of American Indians?

Tribe: Stossel Keeps Up Stereotypes

Marc Stewart, Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe spokesman (re: "Coeur d'Alene Tribe demands Stossel apology"): The argument that treaties and executive orders happened “so long ago” and there for should be forgotten or that the Indians should just “get over it” and be “assimilated” is sadly part of the national political dialogue. It’s paramount to remember that Native Americans were recognized as United States Citizens in 1924. Indians weren’t allowed to vote in Idaho until 1950, others states didn’t allow Indians to vote until 1965. If you put that into context of Native Americans giving up their lives to defend America in wars, you can understand why Indians take offense at those who seek to marginalize them by using loaded words like “handouts” and “lazy” and “freeloaders.”

Question: Do you understand the culture and sovereignty status of American Indians?

MikeK: Teaching Kids To Respect Tribe

Mike Kennedy (re: "Marc: Tribe police have other options"): If the good people of Benewah County want to cast their lot with the likes of Dick Harwood and Larry Spencer, they are free to do so and theoretically I do wish them the best. But I know that decision won’t end well for them. It never does. I, for one, will continue to engage with and work with the people of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, who have after generations of abuse and scorn, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and built a real future in a tough and unforgiving terrain. My kids are being raised with a respect and appreciation for the legacy of hundreds of years of history of North Idaho. History of their grandparents who raised a family as loggers and history of the Coeur d’Alenes who were the original owners of all of this land we love so much. Mike's entire comment here.

Question: Do you teach your children to respect the tribes in your areas of the Inland Northwest?

Rednecks Target Tribe Bill Backer

Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review reported that (Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, pictured) “said he’s received hundreds of calls and e-mails threatening him and questioning his integrity for backing the bill. “I’ve had threats I’d better never go into the county again,” he said. “I’ve been called all kinds of sundry names.” Opponents raised fears, ranging from the tribe taking away the guns of non-Indians who have concealed weapons permits and pass through the reservation to provisions of tribal code being used to impose civil penalties on non-Indians – something that already can occur today on the reservation. “This doesn’t change anything about that,” Wills said. Instead, it addressed criminal violations – saying tribal police officers could enforce state law against non-tribal members, but they’d have to be cited under state law and into state court”/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press. More here.

Question: What role did racism play in the 35-34 defeat of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe police bill?

Marc: Tribe Police Have Other Options

Marc Stewart: All of the Tribal Police Department has been to Idaho Peace Officers and Standards and Training and graduated. They are in good standing and you could verify this easily by talking to the Idaho POST. As a result, they are able to enforce state laws in Kootenai County. You can also confirm that with Rocky Watson. The Tribe’s first choice was a cross deputization agreement with Benewah County. That failed numerous times after Benewah County backed out of two deals, including one in December. You can confirm that with Rep. Rich Wills. The Tribe’s second choice was the state law. Since that failed today, the tribe will seriously consider going the federal route. It’s not saber rattling. It’s not being a bully. It’s just a fact of life that people should prepare themselves for.

Question: Should the Coeur d'Alene Tribe look to a federal solution to protect its citizens with law enforcement on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation?

Harwood Claims ‘Heavy Heart’

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, told the House, “I stand here with a heavy heart today to debate this bill.” He said some have accused people from his county of being racist. “I'll tell you that's nothing more than hate speech and that is not true, it is definitely not true. It's highly offensive to me and to the people of my county,” he said.  He told the House, “It's hard for me to debate this bill because both the county members and the tribal members are my constituents. And the very reason that we're here is because the tribal council wants us to be here.” Harwood said he opposes HB 111, the tribal policing bill, because, “This bill will give the power to an entity that is not accountable to the people that it has the power over. That flies right in the face of everything this country's about, doesn't it? It sure seems like it to me”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Does anyone out there seriously think that Rep. Dick Harwood gives a rip about his constituents in the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe?

CdA Tribe Political Contributions Jump

The amount of campaign contributions the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has given to Idaho politicians increased dramatically between 2004 and 2010. While the tribe, which operates several businesses and has about 2,000 employees, has long been a major player in the northern Idaho economy, its spending on political campaigns started increasing in recent years. In 2004 the tribe gave $4,450 in campaign contributions. Last year the tribe gave state politicians $58,000. The tribe gave more cash to legislative and statewide candidates in 2010 than several other major Idaho businesses including Potlatch Corporation, the state’s largest private landowner/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette-Record. More here.

Question: Do you see any problems with the significant increases in political contributions made by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe from 2004 through 2010?

Tribal policing bill introduced

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the tribal policing issue that's back before lawmakers, after a deal that averted legislation last spring fell apart. "That agreement was not signed, which necessitates coming back before the Legislature and asking for a resolution of this issue," the tribe's lobbyist, Bill Roden, told the House State Affairs Committee. Benewah County Sheriff Bob Kirts disputed that. "If you agree in principle, it's not a final contract," he said. "They said, 'No, you can't make any changes to what you agreed to in Boise.' That's not how it works."

The tribe said the county proposed about 50 changes to the agreement after the Legislature adjourned last spring. Rep.  Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, the new House Judiciary Committee chairman and a retired state trooper, traveled to Benewah County in December to try to get the two sides back to the table to reach an agreement. Things looked promising, he said. "When I left there, I thought we had a good understanding, but it didn't materialize - the county wouldn't even come back to the table."

Tribe Police Bill Back Before Solons

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is back before Idaho lawmakers this year, after Benewah County reneged on a deal last spring that prompted the tribe to drop legislation on policing that lawmakers were on the verge of passing. “Obviously we were extremely disappointed,” said Helo Hancock, legislative director for the tribe. “We felt like we'd been deceived in a lot of ways, that it was just an act to get out of getting a law passed.” This time, the tribe has dropped proposals calling for a six-month window to reach a collaborative cross-deputization agreement with a county, and just written a bill modeled after other states' laws clarifying that tribal police with all required training and legal indemnification can enforce state laws/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Can the Benewah County commissioners, prosecutor, and sheriff be counted on again to negotiate in good faith with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe on this matter?

Tribal policing issue back before lawmakers, after county reneged on deal

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is back before Idaho lawmakers this year, after Benewah County reneged on a deal last spring that prompted the tribe to drop legislation on policing that lawmakers were on the verge of passing. "Obviously we were extremely disappointed," said Helo Hancock, legislative director for the tribe. "We felt like we'd been deceived in a lot of ways, that it was just an act to get out of getting a law passed."

This time, the tribe has dropped proposals calling for a six-month window to reach a collaborative cross-deputization agreement with a county, and just written a bill modeled after other states' laws clarifying that tribal police with all required training and legal indemnification can enforce state laws. The House State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill.

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, said, "I think I understand the value of the cross-deputization, because I was a county commissioner when we did that in the early '80s in Kootenai County, and it was to the advantage of law enforcement at that time. I continue to believe it is a benefit, properly done, and I'm hopeful that the bill that comes forward today will find acceptance."

A new federal law - sponsored in part by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson - allows tribal police officers to enforce federal law on reservations, and if necessary, to cite violators of state law into federal court. "That is not the desire of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, to use that," Bill Roden, lobbyist for the tribe, told the committee.  "But frankly it is such a severe problem that unless this is addressed at the state level, we're merely inviting further federal action, and the current law that is on the books would permit that."

Last March, lawmakers heard chilling testimony about criminals going free; tribal officers tied up for hours waiting for deputies to respond and take over an arrest when they're needed to address other crimes; and more, due to the lack of a cross-deputization agreement. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe long has had such an agreement with Kootenai County, and it had one with Benewah County until the sheriff there revoked it in 2007.

Under questioning from lawmakers on the committee, Roden said Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, traveled to North Idaho in December and attempted to negotiate an agreement between the tribe and the Benewah County Sheriff, who wanted a change to last year's deal to ensure non-tribal members cited on highways would be cited into state court, not tribal court. The tribe agreed, Roden said. "The sheriff represented that if Benewah County reneged on that concept he was going to resign. I haven't seen the resignation yet, but we did get a letter saying that now he doesn't agree with that either. But we tried," Roden said. "That's all I can say."

Tribe Wants Help Funding CityLink

Item: The rising cost of Citylink's success: Coeur d'Alene Tribe asks other agencies to get on board with transit funding/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: The Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Citylink's major contributor, says it is time for local agencies to get on the bus to develop alternative funding sources before the popular free transit service is affected. The Tribe recently delivered the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization board a stern letter signed by Coeur d'Alene Tribe Chairman Chief Allan asking area agencies, including the cities, the county, chambers of commerce and North Idaho College, to look for "outside the box" funding solutions. The Tribe has been the largest contributor to the popular Citylink service, spending $1.2 million in 2010. The service also received $850,000 in federal grants in 2010, compared to $900,000 in 2009.

Questions: Should local governments join the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in funding CityLink?

3-crash survivor pleads guilty in fatality

 A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for an August 2009 crash.

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., 25, of Worley, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine when he lost control of his 1997 Jeep Cherokee and left Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County road, killing William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Matt has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either.

A federal grand jury indicted Matt, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, for the Aug. 18, 2009, crash in June.

He pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years probation when he’s sentenced Feb. 23. He remains in federal custody.

Jesuit Calls Out Anti-Indian NICA

Retiring Jesuit priest Tom Connolly wrote the following form St. Maries Gazette-Record: Unfortunately, those like (North Idaho Citizens Alliance) who want to continue to keep tribes down have organized to seek to prevent them from exercising their long-suppressed rights. In a simple recent instance, Benewah County might need additional law enforcement for its civic events. If fully trained and certified enforcement officials were to be temporarily used from Kootenai County, nothing would ever be said. But if there’s a possibility of temporarily using equally fully trained and certified enforcement officials from the nearby Coeur d’Alene Tribe, a huge uproar is raised by NICA against any possible recognition or cooperation with an Indian tribe. … NICA bullies and threatens Benewah County with their anti-tribal diatribes to prevent any harmonious relationships between the tribe and the county. More here.

Question: Do you think a Jesuit priest with the gravitas of Father Tom Connolly can talk sense to the North Idaho Citizens Alliance?

Christie: St. Maries Stand Disappoints

RE: St. Maries rejects Coeur d’Alene Tribe offer of police help/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette-Record

Sgt. Christie Wood, Coeur d’Alene police spokesman and Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations member: “This is so disappointing and sure to be a discussion topic at our next KCTFHR meeting. It is a issue that need not be. But it appears that years of hatred toward the tribe has fueled this. No doubt the Mayor faced incredible poticial pressure. I am sorry for her that she was put in this position, but the citizens are the losers here. It does appear that she is open to future discussion with all parties involved so good for her. My experience is that when a person needs the help of law enforcement they are very grateful to see an officer arrive. They do not care what agency they represent. I guess it is different in Benewah. However if the Sheriff’s Department and local government would put aside their differences, and embrace the help of the tribal officers the citizens would begin to feel comfortable with them assisting.


St. Maries Rejects Tribe’s Offer

The matter is closed. That is the decision by Mayor Tami Holdahl relating to an offer by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to the city of St. Maries to assist with law enforcement when needed. “After review of the contract between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the city of Plummer and the county of Kootenai, I am tabling any further discussion regarding the “mutual aid” and “cross deputization” agreements. The city is willing to meet and work with Benewah County and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to come to an agreement that will be beneficial for all parties,” Mayor Holdahl wrote in a memo last week. Keith Hutcheson, chief of the tribal police department, met with the city council last month and offered the help, at no cost to the city. The offer was consistent with a previous agreement the tribe had with the city/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette-Record. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that St. Maries backed away from the free police help offered by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe?

HBO Poll: County’s Stand Wrong

  • Wednesday Poll: Overwhelmingly, you Huckleberries oppose the move by Kootenai County commissioners to challenge the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s request to put 143 acres in trust land status (a move that would cost the county $9900 in lost taxes). 107 of 130 respondents (82.3%) said they oppose the commissioners’ action. 20 of 130 (15.4%) said they support the decision. And 3 of 130 (2.3%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll (in honor of the Bonner County Republicans protest of the county fair’s fiesta theme): Are you full or part Hispanic? Is there Hispanic blood in your extended family?

Task Force Rips County Re: Tribe Stand

To the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners: The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Executive Committee on behalf of the Board of Directors is both shocked and amazed at your unwise decision to appeal the decision of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to place 142.56 Coeur d’Alene Tribal acres into trust land status for the first time in 30 years. Your decision defies logic, fairness and a good neighbor policy. You are opposing the annual loss of $9,900 or .0001 percent of a county budget of $73 million while ignoring the tremendous annual financial contributions of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe/Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations executive committee (in letter to Coeur d’Alene Press). More here. (SR file photo by Jesse Tinsley, of Tony Stewart)

Question: Do you agree with the task force or the Kootenai County commissioners?

Kootenai County Appeals Tribe Application

Item: CdA Tribe protests appeal of land trust application: Kootenai County commissioners say placing land in trust will cost $9,898 in revenue/Alison Boggs, SR

More Info: Allan’s letter pointed out that in 2009, the tribe donated more than $1 million to Kootenai County schools, allocated $1.1 million for the county’s free public bus system, paid $100,000 toward its $1 million donation to the Kroc Center, donated $500,000 to other charities and spent $2.9 million on road- and transportation-related projects. Hancock said the tribe donates significantly to the community to offset the loss of tax revenue.

Question: Is Chairman Rick Currie and his fellow commissioners being penny wise and pound foolish in appealing the tribe’s land trust application?

County Fights Tribe Over Tax Pittance

Item: Tribe, county debate land: Commissioners do not want to lose $9,900 in taxes generated by land/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: The dispute is over 142.6 acres in Kootenai County on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Reservation. More precisely, it’s over the property taxes - around $9,900 per year - that land generates. Kootenai County doesn’t want to lose that annual allotment should the land go into trust — essentially when it’s taken off the tax rolls and given to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The Tribe is upset the county would put up such a fight. They said the property taxes pale in comparison to the amounts it donates annually around the county.

DFO: Kootenai County commissioners are following in the dubious footsteps of their Benewah County counterparts here, in fighting with the tribe over a property tax pittance. The tribe has a right to be upset by this absurd challenge, especially after it contributes so much to the county. Here’s hoping Rick Currie and Rich Piazza don’t sour relations with the tribe before they leave office at the end of the year. What do you think about this?

Statue Highlights Plummer Pilgrimage

Cyclists on the Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes have a new viewpoint at the trailhead just north of Plummer, Idaho. On May 29, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Veterans Memorial was dedicated. Gov. Butch Otter gave the keynote address and tribal veterans from across the U.S. attended the event. After seeing photos of the magnificent steel sculpture created by Virgil “Smoker” Marchand of Omak, I knew I had to see it in person. So, last Friday I made a pilgrimage to Plummer. And it didn’t disappoint. Visible from U.S. Highway 95, the exquisitely crafted warrior astride a horse holds a peace pipe aloft and gives testament to the proud Coeur d’Alene heritage of military service. Granite columns flank the sculpture, and behind it a semicircle of stones are engraved with the names of tribal veterans from every branch of the armed forces/Cindy Hval, Washington Voices. More here.

Question: Do you have a favorite monument or memorial?

Stewart: Tribe Pays Fair Share & More

For the first time in decades, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has made a decision to place property into trust (tax exempt status) for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Once the process is finalized, Benewah County stands to lose about $15,000 from the property tax rolls. Instead of working with the tribe, Benewah County officials opposed and apparently will now appeal the tribe’s request, primarily on the grounds that such a transaction would cause severe and irreparable financial harm to the county and its residents. This reckless and unfounded claim is toxic for everyone in Benewah County because it perpetuates misguided hostility toward the tribe/Marc Stewart, Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe. More here.

Question: Do you agree w/Marc Stewart that the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe pays its fair share to help the non-Indian community?

Tribe Member Jailed In Fatal Crash

A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, is in federal custody on a manslaughter charge for crash last summer. Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, was charged in connection with an Aug. 18 crash on Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County that killed William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet. Davison died after the 1997 Jeep Cherokee Matt was driving left the road and vaulted nearly 250 feet, taking off the tops of two trees/Meghann Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels. More here.