The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe released May 8 the following statement regarding the passing of Congressman James Oberstar soon after a funeral mass and burial was held to commemorate his life and years of public service. The statement is from Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
“On behalf of the people of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, I wish to pass our deepest sympathies on to the family of Congressman James Oberstar. During his time in Congress, our reservation changed from a place of great poverty to a center of economic development. Like few others in Washington, he understood federal Indian policies and always supported the positive changes that took place in Indian country. He took pride in the fact that one of his first votes was for the 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, and throughout his tenure in the House he supported strengthening our reservation schools, clinics, infrastructure and economic development.
“He knew our names, understood our history and he fought to improve our lives. Jim Oberstar was our friend at times when it was not politically popular to be our friend. To the end, he was a warrior for our rights and our people. Like the rest of Minnesota, we mourn his passing and we will miss our friend.”
Oberstar passed away Saturday, May 3 at his home in Potomac, Maryland, reported the New York Times. He was 79.