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Resort drops plan to open liquor store near Red Lake reservation

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: September 3, 2014 - 12:27 PM

A northern Minnesota resort owner scrapped plans to open a liquor store after the neighboring Red Lake Band objected to the business opening so close to the border of their dry reservation.

"My first response was to dig into a trench and fight," Chris Freudenberg, owner of Roger’s Resort, told Minnesota Public Radio. "But when you sit back and think, the tribe has a point."

Alcohol is banned from the lands of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and tribal leaders worried about the damage an easily accessible source of liquor would have on a community where many members have struggled with substance abuse.

Freudenberg said he had wanted to open the shop to give his guests a way to get a drink without having to drive, but realized it might simply encourage tribal residents to drink their purchases before driving home, where alcohol is banned.

“That would just undo what I was trying to do,” he told MPR. Instead, he said, he plans to sell drinks at a small restaurant and bar under construction at the resort, where he said a bartender could keep an eye on customers’ consumption.

Freudenberg dropped his permit request last week, ahead of Tuesday’s night’s meeting of the Beltrami County Board. Nevertheless, tribal legal adviser Michelle Paquin asked board members to consider a “buffer zone” around the reservation when considering future liquor license requests.

Beltrami County Chairman Jim Lucachick pledged to take the tribe’s concerns into account.

“We want to be in touch with the Red Lake Tribal Council,” he said, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. “We want to work together."
 

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