Darrell Seki: Red Lake Nation makes right decision with land swap

Red Lake Nation Chairman Darrell Seki. Photo from Senate Indian Affairs Committee / Flickr

Darrell G. Seki Sr., the chairman of the Red Lake Nation of Minnesota, explains why the tribe accepted an $18.5 million settlement for the unlawful use of its land by the Enbridge energy company:
Some have a popular misconception that Red Lake is selling land; that is not true. In fact, we are swapping land as we cannot, as an Indian nation, sell land without congressional approval. By contrast, the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be the only approval agency in a land exchange. Another popular misconception is that we can stop the oil lines from continuing to transport oil. Any action we take will never stop the oil from flowing and the danger of pollution to that land will always be a threat as only a small portion of the line will actually be moved.

At the end of the day, Red Lake really had two legitimate choices; first, can a land exchange provide the tribe a different parcel of land that is more valuable to Red Lake culturally, geographically and economically? Second, can Red Lake use the money Enbridge has agreed to pay to improve the lives of its members for generations to come?

Of course we can. I firmly believe that the benefits of this agreement can help the tribe restore some of the land that was taken from us over the years. Red Lake will definitely receive land in excess of the value of the land exchanged, turning this trespass into a long-term benefit for our tribe.

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Darrell G. Seki Sr.: Doing what is best for Red Lake (The Bemidji Pioneer 1/5)

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