DOJ to grant $3.5 million for Bemidji-area tribal public safety

BEMIDJI--Six American Indian communities in Minnesota--including the three that bracket Bemidji--are in line for millions of dollars from the federal Department of Justice to improve public safety, help crime victims and combat violence against w...

BEMIDJI-Six American Indian communities in Minnesota-including the three that bracket Bemidji-are in line for millions of dollars from the federal Department of Justice to improve public safety, help crime victims and combat violence against women.

In Leech Lake, the grants mean $1.9 million over three years for a narcotics investigator, a victim advocate who'll help band members through court proceedings and other parts of the justice system that a lawyer might not help with, and a bevy of police equipment, including six new squad cars.

The money will also pay for another court administrator to help handle the rising number of domestic violence, harassment and drug cases reservation leaders have seen in recent years, plus a coordinator for the tribe's dormant Bamenim Anishinaabeg-"caring for people"-program, which seeks to provide culturally appropriate treatments for people with chemical dependency or mental health issues.

In White Earth, that means $337,000 over three years to pay for a shelter advocate, who'll help people there get to and from court and hospital visits or, say, help them find a new place to live. They will also add a law enforcement victim advocate and liaison who might attend court with a survivor or transport them to police interviews and who will lead the meetings of the Anishinaabe Sexual Assault Resource Team, a group of leaders from tribal, county, law enforcement, and more that works to streamline and coordinate services for sexual assault victims.

The Red Lake Nation is in line for $1.3 million over three years. Public safety and administrative staff there did not return requests for comment Thursday.


All told, Bemidji-area tribes are in line for about $3.5 million over three years. In all, the Department of Justice is set to spend $8.6 million in that period for tribes in Minnesota. The other three tribes receiving grants are the Lower Sioux Indian Community, which will receive a total of $3.3 million; the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, which will receive $1.2 million and the Prairie Island Indian Community, which will receive $599,000.

Nationwide, the Department of Justice said it was granting $113 million to 133 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages and other tribal assistance programs.

Related Topics: RED LAKE NATION
Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

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