Apr 6, 2013 - Congressman Kevin Cramer called out to make amends. -Dr. Erich Longie


We Dakotas are easy to get along with, after all; our very name signifies, friends and/or allies. And, we are pretty much assimilated into the mainstream society so we no longer become all war like when a Caucasian verbally assaults our winyans (women) in a meeting. Besides, our winyans are tough; they don’t need anyone’s help to deal with a person who apparently does not have any respect for them as human beings.

But, at soon to be sixty years of age I still have some of the old ways in me that were taught to me in my youth. I was raised to respect women and to defend them when they were being mistreated, especially if that winyan is a relative. Therefore, I’m going to speak up on Melissa Merrick’s behalf, as she is a younger relative of mine. I also believe Melissa’s version is the correct version of the conversation between Cramer and her. So I am going to point out the obvious in Cramer’s tactics as he scurries around in attempts to do damage control.

In my opinion, Cramer is going way beyond the bounds of decency in responding to Melissa’s account of what transpired at a meeting between them. He is attempting to deflect the attention away from him by bringing up the Spirit Lake Tribal Council’s transgressions. While the SLTC problems are well documented, pointing them out does not lessen, nor excuse Cramer’s verbal attack on Melissa.

He also said, “once a victim always a victim”, in an interview when describing why Melissa’s version is different than his. It’s another attempt to deflect the focus away from him. Blaming the victim is the worst possible thing a person can do to woman who has been a victim of abuse.

He arrogantly points out that the manner of discussion he used in the meeting was more suitable to the floor of the US House of Representatives. This is the most condescending excuse I have ever heard. He’s implying our women are weak and should be treated as women who are submissive to men. This is so sexist I can’t believe a man of his stature would say something like that.

Also, in regards to Cramer’s statement that the misunderstanding might have been the result of his tone and rhetoric, which is better suited for active debate in Congress rather than in addressing the protectors of our most vulnerable citizens, I have to ask, what the heck does he mean by this? I have never witnessed an active debate in congress, but I would be more than willing to debate the constitutionally of VAWA with him, in the same manner they debate in Congress, at his office in North Dakota, or anyplace else for that matter. I would also be willing to explore other means of debating with him that we both are comfortable with. This should not be hard to do because I’m comfortable with any forms of debating.

Frankly, other than knowing Cramer was the republican candidate for the US House of Representatives, I didn’t know much about him. I didn’t vote for him because – well, he’s a republican. Now I have personal reason for not voting for him as well his character, or lack thereof.

In closing, I want to make sure I’m not prejudging Cramer; he very well might be a good, decent person. So on that assumption, I will make him this offer. We Dakotas are a tolerant, forgiving people. Therefore, as Melissa’s older relative, I will take it upon myself to take my favorite star quilt off my wall and present it to him to help lessen his anger toward my relative. Hopefully, this overture will help him think about his innuendos, the half-truths, the accusations and talking out of both sides of his mouth, when he is recounting his version. Instead, maybe he will put aside his anger and make a sincere apology and take full responsibility for his words. Should Cramer give a sincere apology, we will shake his hands, hold a feed and drop the matter. After all, we are all North Dakotans and we should all strive to get along.

Dr. Erich Longie, President
Spirit Lake Consulting. Inc.

Last Real Indians