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Red Lake Tragedy: Protest and preparations

An update on the latest developments involving the March 21, 2005, fatal shootings on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota.


Star Tribune: Red Lake School Shootings
Pioneer Press: Red Lake shooting
A large crowd of 75-80 tribal members protested a Minnesota newspaper on Thursday for running a political cartoon on the Red Lake Reservation shootings.

Mike Sayers, a Red Lake band member who helped organize the protest, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that the cartoon was "really insensitive, stereotypical." He said he lost four relatives to the tragedy.

Duluth American Indian Commission member Evie Tanner said the media is perpetuating stereotypes of Native Americans. She later met with the paper's executive editor and editorial page editor, and the paper yesterday issued an apology for the cartoon by Pulitzer prize winner Signe Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, however, told Editor & Publisher in an e-mail that he was shocked by the protest to his work. He wrote: "My cartoon was drawn in sympathy with the Red Lake citizens. All it was saying was that the footprints troubled kids leave behind today in the 21st century are not the footprints of anyone's traditional culture."

Protesters criticize paper's cartoon (The Duluth News Tribune 4/1) Username:, Password: indianz1
Cartoon in Duluth paper draws protest (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/1) Username: indianz, Password: indianzcom
Duluth Paper Apologizes for School-Shooting Cartoon; Cartoonist Unhappy (Editor and Publisher 3/31)

Classes will not be held at the Red Lake High School building where the shootings occurred so high school students will attend classes in other buildings, although it is not known when the campus will open. The Minnesota Department of Education plans to exempt high school students from taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment and will adjust the school's adequate yearly progress rating under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The two public elementary schools on the Red Lake Reservation will reopen on Monday. The state also will provide the schools with at least $50,000 in federal aid to boost mental health services. About 1,500 students go to school in the Red Lake district.

As the reservation prepares for the final funeral of the victims of the tragedy, the close-knit nature of the community has created some conflicts, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Some people were related to both the shooter Jeff Weise and the victims. The paper said Weise, in addition to killing his grandfather, killed his cousin, Chase Lussier. The paper said Weise and Louis Jordain, 16, who has been arrested in connection with the shootings, were cousins as well.

Tony Fairbanks, a tribal member, was a former teacher, principal and football coach on the reservation. He coached all of dead and injured, including Weise, on the middle school football team. "I feel sorry for Jeff," he told Superior Daily Telegram. "There are so many people wishing they could have done something to prevent this. But he was influenced in some way to take the actions he did."

Red Lake High ponders next move (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/1)
Schools get federal aid and assess reopening (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/1)
Red Lake elementary schools to re-open (The Bemidji Pioneer 4/1)
Family ties rend hearts at Red Lake (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/1) pw1
Victims' former coach says survivors inspire him (The Superior Daily Telegram 4/1)
Obscure 'Elephant' doesn't say why, either (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/1)

A sheriff's deputy whose e-mail about the shootings led to widespread media coverage has been suspended with pay. The deputy said Jeff Weise, 16, the teen who shot seven people at his school, had been shot twice by a tribal police officer before turning the gun on himself.

Deputy's e-mail about Red Lake brings sanction (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/1)

Many Red Lake tribal members who live in the Twin Cities are seeking assistance to travel back home. The tribe's Red Lake Urban Office is arranging donations. They can be sent to:
Red Lake Urban Office
Franklin Business Center
1433 E. Franklin Ave
Suite 13A
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Also, donations for the victims and their families can be sent to:
Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, Minnesota 56671
How to help the Red Lake people (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 3/27)

Relevant Links:
Red Lake Net News -
Red Lake Nation -
Red Lake High School -