Federal Government Rewards Substance Abuse on Indian Reservations
By Susan Bradford
Saginaw Chippewa Indians have reported drug trafficking on their reservation, but the shipments never seem to stop nor have they successfully enlisted the federal government to investigate and eliminate the nefarious trade from their community. Some tribal whistleblowers have even taken to filming the drug-filled crates in transit only to report that FBI agents have responded by taking their videos and destroying them. In the meantime, the drug trade continues and even flourishes here.
Drugs are allegedly being brought onto the Mt. Pleasant, Michigan reservation by black helicopters which descend onto a makeshift landing strip in the dark of night. “The planes hardly make any noise and are nearly invisible to the naked eye, and so we can't seem to capture them on film,” said one tribal source, who believes the drugs are being shipped in from Canada.
Drug trafficking and related criminal activity were especially prevalent during the Administration of Chief Fred Cantu. One former tribal public affairs spokesman, Joe Somwick, who has been arrested for DUI at least half a dozen times, was caught on film retrieving what appears to be a small plastic bag filled with white substance from a tree on church grounds. Somwick circulated lies about Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and later served jail time, tribal records reveal.
The average tribal member, who is unable to live on his roughly $80,000 tax-free, per capita annual income, is more likely to abuse pot while the tribal elite, who never seem short of disposable income, freely indulge in cocaine. Much to the disgust of tribal members, Council leaders usher controlled substances onto the Indian reservation and then turn around and appeal to the federal government for money to combat the drug epidemic. Former Saginaw Chippewa SubChief Bernie Sprague, Sen. John McCain's lead witness against Abramoff, openly throws wild cocaine parties at his palatial mansion and has been known to physically assault those who show up uninvited.
While drugs continue to proliferate unchecked on the reservation, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council has made every effort to keep law enforcement at bay. Last year, for example, the state of Michigan signed off on a settlement which allows the tribe some authority over all or part of seven townships in Isabella County and limits the presence of non-tribal police within tribal territory to hot pursuits and emergencies, in the process preventing nontribal law enforcement from pursuing independent investigations or responding to appeals and reports placed by concerned tribal members.
As a result, Natives are left at the mercy of tribal police, who are complicit in the drug trade, said inside sources who have observed officers overseeing the shipments. Whistleblowers, who have tried to report the drug trafficking to authorities, have come home to find their cherished pets slaughtered and have seen tribal police on their private property jamming video cameras which have caught drug transactions on film. Tribal police have allegedly attempted to intimidate whistleblowers into silence by arresting them and their children without cause.
The Chief, Dennis Kequom, regularly grants the requests of tribal police for hundreds of thousands of dollars for new equipment and vehicles and continues to keep officers on the payroll who have allegedly raped Native girls. While promising to take action to combat the drug trade, Kequom never seems to deliver, said inside sources.
In the meantime, the drug pushers appear untouchable and able to operate above the law, inside sources said. A suspect in the suspicious death of his first wife (For details, please read Lynched), Sprague recently made an attempt against the life of Kay Davis, an elderly tribal genealogist who is investigating fraud on the reservation, inside sources said. After roughing her up at the Soaring Eagle Casino, Sprague allegedly cut the brakes on her car. In a separate incident, Sprague tried to stab his minister with a butcher knife while under the influence of a controlled substance, tribal witnesses said.
Normally such behavior would be cause for outrage and alarm, but on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian reservation, substance abuse is grounds for celebration as it translates into another windfall from the federal government, which has become the greatest enabler of Native dysfunction this nation has ever seen. The more stoned and intoxicated the tribal population, the fatter their wallets.
“Another year has gone by and Behavioral Health is doing well in many areas,” gushed the Tribal Observer, the official publication of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. “Our most lucrative area this year has been the Access to Recovery Program. Access to Recovery (ATR) is a grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which awarded the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan over 11 million dollars to provide a voucher-based substance abuse and recovery support program that included all 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan.”
Through this program, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe brought in over $700,000 for FY 2009. “Each program that participated as a provider generated revenue for their department,” the Tribal Observer reported. Behavioral Health invested its free taxpayer gift in a winter lodge.
Susan Bradford is the author of Lynched! The Shocking Story of How the Political Establishment Manufactured a Scandal to Have Republican Super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff Removed from Power. For more information, please visit: www.susanbradford.org.