RBC Chair candidate: Kevin R. Dupuis Sr. (incumbent)
August 14, 2020
Q What in your personal background, characteristics and/or qualifications makes you good for this job?
A I started reading the tribal constitution and treaties in 1990, when I came home from the Marine Corps. There was a lot I didn't agree with. I started getting more involved with the reservation and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT). I wasn't aiming for politics but decided I had something to offer. I've served as secretary-treasurer, Brookston Rep and now Chair and MCT president. I believe I have the background and the mindset for today.
Q What motivated you to run for the RBC chairperson seat?
A I sat in for Sonny and Pete. I represented the Band in places the chair would sit, even in front of Congress. I wanted to deal with other levels of government, because I have the ability to stand in front of anybody and argue a point and not back down.
Q What do you think are the top two issues facing the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and how would you go about tackling those?
A One of the biggest issues is drugs. It doesn't just affect the person that does it, it affects the family and the entire community. If you make a healthy person, I believe you can make a healthy family. The more healthy families you make, the healthier the community. But you have to have the programs in place to help the individual. The disparities that affect Indian Country is off the chain - look at the statistics - historical trauma does exist and it's hard to overcome. You can do it, but it won't happen overnight or next month. Sometimes it's hard for people to come forward because of the shame principle they may feel. We're all in this together. We shouldn't shun people who have these problems, who are alcoholics or have drug addictions. When hope is at the table, you grab it as hard as you can. You need to do that with individuals.
One of the bigger problems on the reservation is still the inequities that exist. I think it's a fixable problem. I don't think it's done intentionally, I think it's the way the systems are put in place. You should never protect a system that's gonna fail somebody.
Q What's one issue you think the RBC has handled well over the past two years?
A I believe the Enbridge issue was handled well. It's not about the compensation package that comes with it, it's about what we were able to do with an oil company: establish training and principles of safety to ensure the pipeline is as safe as it can be. I also think this RBC has opened its tables to anyone who wants to come and talk. We've created bridges, and rebuilt bridges that have been burnt.
Q The pandemic and subsequent closure of the band's two casinos was a big financial hit to the reservation. How do you think the RBC can help the reservation broaden its economic base moving forward?
A We have to diversify. The pandemic was bad but this government looked optimistically - what good can come from it? No. 1: Ensure we are prepared, and have supplies. It's time we start building in this country again. We are also open to business ventures. Can the band offer a service for members, surrounding communities and country as a whole? We need to look at what is needed