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Published March 28, 2013, 02:33 PM

Rep. Cramer disputes account of ‘tirade’ at Spirit Lake meeting

The head of Spirit Lake Victim Assistance says she was verbally abused by North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer. Melissa Merrick says Cramer went on a 20 minute tirade in Bismarck on Tuesday criticizing the Violence Against Women Act, tribal governments and even threatening the Spirit Lake Tribal Council.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

The head of Spirit Lake Victim Assistance says she was verbally abused by North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer. Melissa Merrick says Cramer went on a 20 minute tirade in Bismarck on Tuesday criticizing the Violence Against Women Act, tribal governments and even threatening the Spirit Lake Tribal Council.

Merrick detailed her concerns about Congressman Kevin Cramer in an online article. She says a discussion about tribal sexual services programs quickly escalated into a verbal attack against tribal governments. Merrick writes that Cramer says he doesn't agree with a provision in the Violence against women act that allows tribal courts to try non-members accused of abuse on reservations.

Merrick's account goes on in detail. She claims that Cramer called tribal courts and governments "dysfunctional" and that he said non-native men couldn't get a fair trial. Merrick claims Cramer even went as far as to say he "doesn't feel comfortable stepping onto a reservation." According to Merrick, Cramer said he wanted to wring the necks of Spirit Lake tribal council members and slam them against a wall.

Congressman Cramer responded to the article late this afternoon. He says he wants to apologize to Merrick for the tone of the discussion on Tuesday but he also says Merrick's article is "not an accurate account".

Merrick wrote that based on what she heard, she feels Cramer thinks Native Americans in North Dakota are beneath him.

Melissa declined to talk to us about this issue tonight and says she doesn't know when, but she plans to release a statement sometime Friday.

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