Wolf Point Herald

Poplar School Board Ousts Controversial Superintendent

The Poplar School Board placed the beleaguered district superintendent on administrative leave and appointed interim co-superintendents, Thursday, May 14.
Elementary principal Keith Erickson and high school principal Dwain Haggard will serve as co-superintendents.
The board placed Dr. Kim Harding on administrative leave and began dialog leading to a possible contract buyout. Harding held the school district’s top post since the beginning of the school year.
A petition asking that Harding be removed was reported to have circulated in the Poplar community earlier in May. That came after the Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board voted 9-1, April 27, to banish Harding from the reservation. Numerous allegations alleged issues with Harding not getting along with teachers and she was accused of referring to several Poplar teachers as “renegades” in an email dated March 6. A Poplar teacher publicized the email from Harding on March 11.
Harding was taken to task because of historical uses of the word “renegade” that are considered offensive by Native Americans.
Harding told The Herald-News in early May that the email was portrayed in the press [not in The Herald-News] as racist in nature and described situations that had been happening at staff meetings.
“I absolutely wish I had never used the word renegade. I come from Ronan [on the Flathead Reservation]. We raised our family there and have our ranch there,” Harding said.

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Tester Hears Tribes’ Concerns

The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board land committee expressed concerns to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, during a meeting at the Tribes’ offices in Poplar Wednesday, May 27.
Vice chairwoman Patt Iron Cloud told Tester the federal government could force the Tribes to pay a $1.9-million penalty for not being in compliance with the Affordable Care Act Affordable Care Act [sometimes known as Obamacare] because of a federal mandate to provide health insurance coverage to about 500 tribal employees. The ACA does not exempt tribal governments from the requirement to provide insurance for employees.
Tester said he will look at the situation.
Iron Cloud also told Tester of concerns about rerouting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to prevent water contamination.
She also told him more funding is need for tribal colleges and education for Indian youth that do not live on reservations.
Iron Cloud told Tester that funding is needed to build a detox center at the new tribal jail.
Tester said Indian Health Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs and highway construction needs in Indian Country are not fully funded.
“We need to fund a pot of money,” Tester said.
He said he has not seen a highway bill yet. Tester said he wants a bill that would include highway funding for Indian Country.
“Hopefully, by August, we will have a long-term bill passed and Indian Country will be addressed in it,” Tester said.
He said Montana Medicaid expansion will help Indian Health Services money to go further.
Executive board member Charles Headdress said the methamphetamine problem is out of control with too many people selling meth out of homes in Poplar and not enough being done about it. He also cited the obvious scenario of local people with no jobs  driving expensive vehicles potentially being drug dealers.
Tester acknowledged that the problem is worse than it was five years ago because of the nearby Bakken Oilfield.
An issue cited is difficulty getting undercover people and confidential informants trained and certified.
Tester said he would speak to Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice Capt. Jim Summers about that situation.
“The meth problem we have here is terrible. We’re losing a whole generation of our youth,” executive board member Edward Bauer said.
He also told Tester that victims and witnesses are reluctant to testify in federal court partly because they have to fund their own transportation to U.S. District Court in Great Falls with lengthy waiting periods for federal reimbursement.
Bauer said that while medical marijuana is legal off the reservation by Montana state law, it remains illegal for Indians because of federal law.
“We’re not all in agreement, but we’re hoping for the same opportunities for our people,” Bauer said.
Recreational marijuana was also discussed.
Tester said legalizing recreational marijuana sends mixed messages, especially with the methamphetamine problem.

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Dakota Presbyterian Churches Get Help


Red Eagle, Lindsey and Riverside church members (not in order) Stacey Summers, Jerome First, Earnestine Dupree, Pearl Hopkins, Patrick Pipe and Ashley Dupree and dancers Cody Eagleman and Cheyenne Foote and Bozeman Presbyterian Church members poze at the FPCC College dorms in Poplar. The Bozeman group is in the area to assist the local churches. (Submitted photo)

Sixteen members of the Bozeman Presbyterian churches are visiting the Fort Peck Reservation this week in hopes of helping the local Dakota Presbyterian Churches improve their facilities.
The Red Eagle Church in Fort Kipp, Riverside Church, Lindsey Church in Poplar and the United Dakota Church in Wolf Point will receive services from the group.  
Members of the Bozeman churches include a retired engineer, military, school teachers and various builders that will evaluate each church making plans for improvements and minor repairs and landscaping work.
In Riverside, the team will help map the Riverside Cemetery and help the church apply for historical status. The Red Eagle church is in need of work to improve the foundation while the other churches all need repairs.   
The Red Eagle church members fed the volunteers supper Monday, June 1, at the Fort Peck Community College dorms. Native American dancers Cody Eagleman and Cheyenne Foote danced for the group and talked about Native American culture.

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Mini Entrepreneurs


Five youth set up a lemonade stand in front of the Wolf Point Fire Station, Friday, May 29, to make a few extra bucks. Pictured are (seated, from left to right) Raymond Burshia, Brianna Jensen-Rowe, Chamiyah Durney, (standing) Vanessa Durney and Jalinn Jensen-Rowe.  (Photo by John Plestina)

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“Ride For Water”


A group of college students passed through Wolf Point, Poplar and Cul-
bertson Thursday, May 28, on a Seattle to New York bicycle ride along the Hi-Line for “Ride For Water,” a group raising money for clean water for Uganda. Pictured making a rest stop at McDonalds in Wolf Point are (from left to right) James Swain of Phoenix, Ariz.; Ryan Fackler and Jesse Stedman, both of Sacramento, Calif.; Kyle Hahn of Ventura, Calif.; and Cameron Vaughn of Pleasanton, Calif.
(Photo by John Plestina)

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