Minnesota lawmakers and Native American leaders joined forces Monday at the Capitol to try to raise awareness about the state’s 11 federally-recognized sovereign nations.
The House of Representatives hosted a daylong educational event, called Sovereignty Day. During opening remarks, several tribal leaders highlighted injustices against native people through history.
Sam Strong, secretary of the Red Lake Nation, stressed that his people are suffering now from unemployment, crime and deep disparities in education and health care.
“Now all of you did not create these wrongs." he said. "But it’s important to recognize the wrongs of the past if we mean to correct them, if we mean to move forward in a good way.”
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, the first Native American woman elected to the statewide office, also addressed the gathering. Flanagan said Minnesota can be a model for how state government works with tribal nations.
“States, local government and the federal government must work in partnership with the sovereign nations and urban Indian communities across the country, working with them and not doing stuff to them,” Flanagan said.