WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published March 29, 2013, 06:59 PM

Cramer controversy continues, chairman demands meeting

The war of words continues to escalate between Spirit Lake Victim Assistance Director Melissa Merrick and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

The war of words continues to escalate between Spirit Lake Victim Assistance Director Melissa Merrick and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer.

Merrick fired back today over Cramer's response to her claims. That's not all. Both the Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain tribes have released statements criticizing the congressman for what they call derogatory statements against Native Americans. Congressman Cramer said that he apologizes to Merrick for the tone of the discussion that took place between them, but it's becoming clear that that apology won't be enough.

Melissa Merrick claims Congressman Kevin Cramer said a non-native man couldn't get a fair trial in tribal courts under the new Violence Against Women Act because tribal courts and governments are "dyfunctional." She also accuses Cramer of saying he wouldn't feel safe going in a reservation, and even threatened to "wring the tribal council's neck and slam them against a wall." The Spirit Lake Tribal Council says it's taking those accusations seriously, releasing a statement saying Cramer's alleged comments are beneath the dignity of his office and show a lack of understanding of the Violence Against Women act. The council goes on to say it plans to launch an investigation about the incident.

Turtle Mountain Chairman Richard McCloud also wrote today that Cramer's words were derogatory and show a misunderstanding of how tribal governments work. He demands a meeting with the congressman to discuss the statements. In addition to apologizing for the tone of the discussion, Congressman Cramer added that Merrick's initial article was "not an accurate account." In her response today, Merrick writes that she stands by what she says, and wants the congressman to apologize for his words, not just how he said them."

The only other Native American woman at the meeting with Cramer, Linda Thompson with the First Nations Women's Alliance, told us Friday afternoon that Merrick's account of the meeting is what really happened.

Tags: