Lawrence, Bill: Minnesota tribal watchdog passes on after cancer fight

Minneapolis, Minnesota (AP) March 2010

Bill Lawrence, a journalist who was a watchdog of Minnesota’s tribal governments for more than two decades, has died after a fight with prostate cancer. He was 70.

Lawrence passed away March 2nd at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.

“He just died very quietly and gently, as he had lived,” his companion, Roxanne Jensen, said. She said Lawrence’s cancer already was advanced when it was diagnosed in March 2008.

“It’s just been a downhill ride,” Jensen said.

Lawrence became a journalist in 1988 and crusaded to open the books of Minnesota’s 11 Indian casinos. His investigative reporting helped send several tribal leaders to prison in the 1990s.

Lawrence was a Red Lake Band Ojibwe member who grew up in Bemidji. He was founder and editor of the Native American Press/Ojibwe News. He printed his final edition last fall because of his failing health.

A memorial service was scheduled for 2 p.m. March 13 at Bemidji State University’s Memorial Hall.