KBIC joins farm bill lobby group

BARAGA — The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community passed a resolution to join the Native Farm Bill Coalition at its Tribal Council meeting on Saturday.

The coalition is an effort to give Native Americans a voice on the farm bill, which is passed by Congress every five years. There will be a new or amended one in 2019.

President Warren “Chris” Swartz said the purpose of the coalition is to “make sure that Indians get their fair share.”

Some of the things mentioned that the farm bill impacts are things ranging from agriculture to industrial opportunities.

The KBIC’s purpose in getting involved is because of the effects the bill has on native communities and making sure its voice is heard.

“In the past tribes have primarily been left out of farm bills,” said Jennifer Misegan, the council’s vice president, “and this year tribes want to get involved.”

Because of the agricultural effects, Swartz said food sovereignty is a factor in joining, as well as impacts from issues such as rural development funding, research programs, nutritional programs, energy projects and grants.

“There’s great opportunities for the tribe,” said Swartz.

Council member, Rodney Loonsfoot questioned how the bill would affect commercial fishing and led into his comments on the tribe’s fishing tournament the past weekend.

Before discussing his concern of tribal members being in the tournament and winning, he said, “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, create any hate or animosity.”

Loonsfoot, who was scolded earlier in the meeting for mentioning closed meeting information, gave his thoughts on the tournament being a conflict of interest and discussed tribal members’ complaints.

He said, “I’m asking council members to refrain from competing, especially if it can be seen as a conflict of interest.”

The remainder of council members disagreed with it being a conflict of interest and began to tell their own stories about tournaments.

Loonsfoot left the meeting as Swartz, who won the tournament, talked about the tournament.

Other things discussed at the meeting were the start of production for the KBIC tobacco company, a possible insurance claim for casino loss of revenue due to construction issues, SNAP benefits and donation disagreements.