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Letter: Please, put youth before greed

I just finished reading the May 3 edition of the Pine Knot. I reside in Florida now but lived and worked most of my life in Cloquet. I was very disturbed by the business article written by Brady Slater, entitled, “Tribe projects include cannabis.”

I worked for more than 20 years as a guidance counselor at Washington and Churchill elementary schools in Cloquet. As part of my job duties, I taught students about drug education, peer pressure, decision making, and consequences for actions.

I have taught thousands of Cloquet kids during my career, but, unfortunately, I must not have crossed paths with Rob Abramowski, secretary/treasurer for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Abramowski wants to diversify the incoming funds for the Band and not rely on gaming as much. I can agree with that. But it’s his solution that I have a problem with. He wants the tribe to invest in a cannabis facility behind the Kwik Trip in Carlton. He wants the tribe to be involved in growing, selling and manufacturing pot.

It saddens me that greed is being placed above the well -

being of our young people. Abramowski himself stated that he was apprehensive at first as to how this would affect our kids. I think we all know the answer to that. It would negatively impact our community. But he goes on to say that he needs to jump at the chance to grow, sell and manufacture pot before someone else beat him to it. Sounds like chasing the mighty dollar to satisfy the greed appetite.

I’ll go back to the lessons I taught: drug education, peer pressure, decision making and consequences. A cannabis business will fail our young people on all accounts.

I worked with many outstanding educators whose main job it is to advance the cultural and academic learning of our Native youth. Karen Herman, Kyra Patrick, Phil Beadle and Holly Pellerin have been integral mentors to the successes of our Indian youth. Churchill Elementary was recently awarded as a Blue Ribbon School for its excellence in closing the student achievement gap between Native students and Caucasian students. Native students in Cloquet consistently score well above the state average in annual state testing. The American Indian graduation banquet took place this week. Cloquet continues to see increases in the graduation rates of Native students. These are all tremendous feats that weren’t happening in the past. The future looks bright for our students.

The Band has every right to diversify its assets and seek out profits. But let’s not do it at the expense of our young people and families in our communities. Please reconsider having a cannabis facility in our backyard.

Greg Oakes,

Lady Lake, Florida

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