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Band chairman exonerated by FDL tribal council

The censure hearings against Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa chairman Kevin Dupuis ended Monday with a meeting of the Reservation Business Committee. In a meeting open to band members in person and online, the RBC voted 3-2 that the accused chairman answered the questions to the council’s satisfaction. There will be no further proceedings, stated the band’s chief judge, Henry Buffalo, who was the presiding official for the hearing.

Fond du Lac secretary/treasurer Ferdinand Martineau originally made the motion to censure Dupuis at the Jan. 28 Minnesota Chippewa Tribal Executive Committee meeting, for violating a reservation ordinance that prohibits weapons in tribal buildings.

According to a copy of the Fond du Lac police report, a loaded handgun was discovered in a bathroom near the business committee offices. When a police officer called Dupuis to inform him of the situation, the chairman told the officer it was his gun and later came to pick it up. No charges were filed, but Martineau said he considered it “a dereliction or neglect of duty,” and was requesting censure by the executive committee.

According to an online copy of Fond du Lac ordinances, the firearms ordinance was passed in 2003 and prohibits firearms within public facilities on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The only exceptions to the law are firearms lawfully possessed by on-duty police officers and people transporting money under contract with the band.

In the hearing March 13, Dupuis openly admitted the gun was his from the start, but insisted the other RBC members gave him permission to carry a weapon after members were threatened. Brookston RBC member Roger Smith provided testimony that both he and Dupuis were given permission to carry handguns because Dupuis had a conceal and carry license and Smith was a licensed peace officer. Smith said there had been “threats against the lives” of RBC members.

Following the 7-5 vote by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribal Executive Committee to censure Dupuis in March, MCT executive director Gary Frazer explained to the Pine Knot News that the RBC had three options after its own hearing: exonerate, remove or recall. They voted 3-2 to exonerate Monday.

Band officials responded, but declined to comment for this story.