Bill Lawrence and tribal sovereignty

Bill Lawrence died this week. The 70-year-old Lawrence was a watchdog of the state’s tribal governments. He published the Native American News and crusaded to get tribes to open the books on the 11 tribal casinos. He folded the paper because of declining health; he had prostate cancer.

As near as I’ve been able to tell, one of the few appearances Lawrence made on Minnesota Public Radio occurred during a Mainstreet Radio broadcast on treaty rights and tribal sovereignty in 1998.

Lawrence was opposed to tribal sovereignty and said people on the reservations were afraid to speak out about it. He wasn’t. “It’s a license for tribal leaders to steal,” he said.

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“He was a straight arrow,” Pete Barthelemy, Lawrence’s friend since childhood told the Bemidji Pioneer. “If he had you in his crosshairs, you’d better be careful. He was relentless.”

  • Art Coulson

    So, by extension, is the United States’ sovereignty “a license for the president and congress to steal?”

    Not to speak ill of the dead, but c’mon.