Signs in Ontario, Canada, point to the United States and the Mohawk territory at Akwesasne. Photo: Michel Rathwell
Canada | National | Politics

Tribes team up to address northern border issues at conference in August





Two tribes whose territories span the United States border with Canada have joined forces for a unique summit.

The Kootenai Tribe in Idaho and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York are separated by thousands of miles. But they see their Northern Tribal Border Summit as a way to address common issues facing their communities, especially in light of new governmental administrations in the U.S. and in Canada.

“We look forward to discussing how best to improve border crossing for Native peoples during the Trump and Trudeau administrations, particularly those tribes, like ours, that have our people located on both sides of the border," said Chairman Gary Aitken, Jr. of the Kootenai Tribe.

“This is an important opportunity for northern border tribes and First Nations communities to come together in an effort to work collaboratively regarding our shared experience with border issues in the United States and Canada," added Eric Thompson, a chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

Tribes and and First Nations on both sides of the border are invited to the event, which takes place August 20-21 on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota. They will hear from U.S. and Canadian officials, as well as from Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who is scheduled to deliver the keynote.

"The U.S.-Canadian relationship is one of the strongest in the world and this summit presents an extraordinary opportunity for tribal leaders and public officials on both sides of our northern border to come together and further enhance our partnership," Cramer said. "I look forward to participating in this event and discussing solutions on how we can better harmonize our border policies and improve the lives of northern border tribal members."

There is no cost to attend the event but participants can register by contacting Kimberlee M. Dunlop at kim.dunlop@odawilaw.com or Kayla Gebeck at kayla.gebeck@hklaw.com. Lodging inquiries for the "Northern Tribal Border Summit" can be made before August 2 at the Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel in Minnesota.

The U.S. border with Canada spans about 5,500 miles. Whether is crossings for ceremonies, commerce or social reasons, the border affects daily lives for tribal citizens in nine U.S. states and for First Nations in eight provinces.