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Arrest of 11-year-old fans tension between Mille Lacs Band 5-9-07

By PATRICK CONDON
VINELAND, Minn. (AP) - The 11-year-old boy was led from his school in
handcuffs, held overnight in a juvenile detention center, and hauled
into court in shackles and an orange prison jumpsuit.

His crime? Missing a court date to testify as the victim of an assault.

The treatment of the boy, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,
has reignited a decades-old feud between the tribe and officials from
the surrounding county in central Minnesota.

“There's other people out there they could have picked to make an
example of,” said Kristie Lee Davis-Deyhle, the boy's mother, in her
first interview about the case. “Not an 11-year-old.”

Tribal leaders are calling for the resignation of the Mille Lacs
County attorney, Jan Kolb, who says she was just carrying out policy
in the face of a long history of band members ignoring subpoenas.

“I don't know that it should have been done differently,” said
Kolb, who was first elected in 1993. The uproar, she said, “is a way
to make Mille Lacs County look like it's racist.”

The Mille Lacs Band, now the largest employer in the county, and some
of its neighbors have long had a tense relationship in their shared
home around Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota's second-biggest lake and a
choice spot for walleye fishing and other outdoor recreation.

The official policy of the county is that the Mille Lacs Band's
reservation no longer exists because of legal decisions dating to the
early 20th century. Federal courts have rejected a lawsuit to that
effect, but Kolb and the Mille Lacs County Commission maintain their
position.

Kolb caused a flap last year by detailing the policy in a memo to
county department heads. Soon after, members of the local American
Indians Veterans Post 52 and the Ladies Auxiliary were booed by some
spectators while riding a float in the Fourth of July parade in the
Mille Lacs County town of Isle.

Against that backdrop came the arrest of the 11-year-old band member.

The boy was allegedly the victim of an assault by a 13-year-old
classmate. But, Kolb said, the county was having trouble prosecuting
the 13-year-old because the younger boy and his mother ignored
subpoenas and missed several court dates. Davis-Deyhle said the
family never got the subpoenas, and a tribal lawyer said the county
is not diligent in making sure subpoenas are served.

When the boy missed a court hearing in early April, Kolb's office
requested the judge issue a warrant for his arrest. A tribal officer
was dispatched to his school, where he was handcuffed and transported
to the detention center. Davis-Deyhle talked to her son on the phone
that afternoon.

“He told me he didn't understand what was going on. I could hear the
tears, the fear in his voice,” Davis-Deyhle said.

The boy spent the night at the juvenile detention center, about 60
miles away in St. Cloud. At the court hearing the next morning, in
which the boy was brought into court in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs
and shackles, prosecutors announced that they wouldn't press charges
and that he was free to go.

Kolb is unapologetic about the boy's treatment. She said the entire
point of the prosecution was to make him safer against the
13-year-old aggressor.

“This family knew his appearance was needed in court,” Kolb said.
“Someone needed to step in and say, we'll get him there next time.
Some showing of accountability or acknowledgment of the criminal
justice system.”

Last week, Benjamin asked the state attorney general to intervene and
force Kolb to change her practices; lawyers from that office went to
Mille Lacs County and are now determining if they have jurisdiction.

The American Civil Liberties Union is also seeking a government
investigation, and Brunkow said the family is likely to file a
federal civil rights lawsuit.

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