Woman arrested after death of Red Lake councilman
- Article by: AMY FORLITI
- Associated Press
- March 12, 2014 - 2:25 PM
MINNEAPOLIS — A Red Lake Tribal Council member who was known as a champion for treaty rights was found shot dead over the weekend, and a woman who was at the scene was arrested on domestic violence and assault charges, authorities said Wednesday.
Donald "Dudie" May, 58, died Saturday in rural Red Lake.
"It's a huge blow to our community," said Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. "There's a lot of questions surrounding his death that cannot be answered at this time, and the community is just in shock. ... We just have this pit in our stomachs and a hole in our hearts."
Jourdain told The Associated Press there's no indication May's death was politically motivated.
Tribal police and the FBI are investigating.
"It is suspicious," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said. "It is an active investigation, so we are trying to determine exactly what happened."
Red Lake Public Safety Director William Brunelle said in a statement that police received a report of a shooting at a rural Red Lake residence at about 7:40 p.m. Saturday. They arrived to find May dead.
A 47-year-old woman at the residence was arrested and faces charges of domestic violence, third-degree assault and disorderly conduct.
May was first elected to the Red Lake Tribal Council in 2004 and was passionate about treaty rights and reclaiming former tribal lands, according to an obituary on the Cease Family Funeral Home's website.
He was planning to give a presentation to the tribal council this week about reclaiming Upper Red Lake, an issue that Jourdain said was "near and dear" to May's heart. He also helped organize events for troops and suicide prevention, his obituary said.
Jourdain, an honorary casket bearer, said May was a close confidant. He said they ran on the same ticket when they were elected in 2004.
"His mission, his main reason for getting on the tribal council, was to refocus our leadership on getting back to the people," Jourdain said.
Jourdain said May worked hard to help families after a 2005 school shooting that claimed the lives of 10 people on the reservation, including the 16-year-old gunman.
"He did everything he could to comfort and console those who lost loved ones," Jourdain said. "He had family members who were affected by this too. He had a huge heart and he was helping people constantly."
In 2005, he was one of two tribal council members who opposed a Twin Cities casino proposed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. May said he was concerned the proposal would change the tribe's status as a sovereign nation and could open it to lawsuits that might jeopardize tribal resources.
"We don't jeopardize the sovereignty of Red Lake," May said at the time. "The money may look good, but if it jeopardizes our sovereignty, it's a no-go for me. To me, sovereignty means everything to this reservation."
According to his obituary, May was the director of Red Lake Sanitation and an electrician who opened his own business, May Electric. He also had worked as a commercial fisherman and in the logging business.
Jourdain said there would be no business conducted at Red Lake and flags would fly at half-staff "until we lay our fallen warrior to rest."
May's wake was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Lake Humanities Building and will continue until Friday, when the funeral is scheduled.
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