A Tribute To Minnesota Politician Don Fraser And American Indians


I was so saddened that after writing about the Friendship Circle march on June 2, I received word that long-time Minnesota Congressman and Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser had passed away on that same day at the age of 95.

I remember Don Fraser very well; he served as the Congressman for Minnesota’s 5th District from 1963 to 1978. When I was first allowed to vote until I left Minneapolis to marry in South Africa, I voted for Don Fraser. He had a very kind personality that blended in well with the other prominent Democratic politicians at the time – Hubert H Humphrey and Walter Mondale, and that is when the Democratic Party in Minnesota was at its strongest.

After I left Minnesota for South Africa, Don Fraser left Congress and served four terms as Minneapolis Mayor from 1980 to 1994. He was the oldest and longest serving mayor in the history of Minneapolis.

His son, Tom Fraser, told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.com that his father wasn’t a typical politician. “He was a little shy and understated. He’d rather listen than talk. He had trouble remembering names and faces and he didn’t like asking for money,” Fraser said.

“He was a firm believer in the rule of law and was a very effective advocate for causes he believed in. He was a very thoughtful, scholarly guy who did his research. Even his political opponents respected him,” said Fraser.

Tom Fraser told the Minneapolis Star Tribune last year that the family’s house in Washington “became basically a hostel for the anti-war movement and women’s rights.”  Don Fraser’s wife. Arvonne Fraser died last August at the age of 92.

For me, Don Fraser was a role model of what a person should do to be your friend, and someone who you can look up to when decisions had to be made to do the right thing for the voters in Minnesota’s 5th district. His son Tom explains why he was the type of person you would vote for, but Don never seemed to grab the spotlight, he just went about trying to do his job for the good people of Minnesota’s 5th district.

It appears those great politicians have given way to different ideals that have not only had a very negative influence on the voters of Minnesota but voters throughout the US and the world. Don Fraser stood up for the enforcement of laws which is what every politician should be doing. And if that’s true of every politician, then how much more so that should be the case for Congress!!

Don Fraser was born in 1924, a very interesting year in American history. The American Indians ended their feud against the white man after more than 300 years. Reservations were set up and today they are far better off than when they were at war. They have managed to create a nice lifestyle for themselves which also benefits people who live around them.

I am not an expert in what happens on a Reservation, but know for a fact that many American Indians are benefitting from the US economic growth that allows them to obtain employment and receive other benefits.

A prime example is the Mohegan Sun complex which is owned by the Mohegan tribe  in Uncasville, Connecticut.  On January 28, 2003, the Mohegan Sun hosted a fan festival to announce Connecticut as the new destination for the former Orlando Miracle Women’s National Basketball Association ( WNBA ) team to be known as The Sun. This was the first franchise in league history to be owned independently.

University of Minnesota Women’s Basketball coach Lindsay Whalen was an ex-Minnesota Lynx player, after originally playing for the Sun. The Lynx won four WNBA championships with Lindsay on the team. Just like the Twins, those titles came in odd- numbered years. As I am writing this, the Suns and Lynx are on top of the 12 team league this season.

Getting back to the Mohegan Tribe and the Mohegan Sun complex, when the Mohegan Tribe first became interested in building this complex on their property, they had to find an experienced person to do so. It may surprise you that this person turned out to be Sol Kerzner, a native South African Jew.

In 1994, following the first multiracial elections in South Africa, Kerzner was asked by incoming President Nelson Mandela to arrange the VIP function at the Presidential Inauguration, which was attended by approximately a thousand people, including many of the world’s leaders and heads of state. In 1996 he opened the rampantly successful Mohegan Sun casino.

The following information comes from the Mohegan Tribal Site to give you a better idea of how this complex helps the Mohegan Tribe and the State of Connecticut economically-

Mohegan Sun

Owned by the Mohegan Tribe and managed by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), Mohegan Sun is a premier entertainment, meeting, shopping and gaming destination, with three casinos; over 40 restaurants, bars and lounges; three entertainment venues including a 10,000-seat Arena, a 350-seat Wolf Den and an upscale, edgy comedy club plus two luxury hotel towers with a total of 1,563 rooms. We chose to implement this ‘governmental gaming’ as a source of tax revenue, much like a state chooses gaming or lotteries to enhance its tax base.

A Native American tribe’s ability to access the resources available through gaming is vastly different from commercial gaming or even that of a state. A very special relationship exists between a federally recognized Indian tribe and the United States. This relationship is granted in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and has been repeatedly upheld by the United States Supreme Court. As such, it is the federal government and tribes, unless other agreements have been made with a state, which regulate and oversee all gaming operations.

To develop its gaming operations, the Tribe followed a complex and structured process very clearly defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) passed by Congress in 1988. This federal law also establishes the restrictions regarding how a tribal government must use resources derived from gaming. Revenues from Mohegan Sun enabled us to reduce our dependency on federal funding. In 1997, we returned $2.2 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We turn back our allotted portion of federal funds to be redistributed to other Indian nations. In addition, both Mohegan Sun and the state’s other Indian casino in giving 25% of all slot revenues to the State, represent the State of Connecticut’s single largest source of revenue other than the federal government.

What is important here is that even though American Indians were at war, they have stopped the hate and have blended into American culture. By doing so, they are making a contribution to America and in return Americans from all over the US are supporting their efforts which are benefiting everyone. American Indians have not taught their children to hate, but rather if you meet them, like I have when I lived in Minnesota, you will see they are  interested in living peacefully with their fellow man. That is what life is all about, but for reasons only Hashem knows, he has created people who prefer to stay angry at Jews, Israel and there is no place in America or its Congress for such people.

So with all this said, I promised in my last blog to comment on the sign appearing on Eastern Parkway last week. Due to Don Fraser’s passing and out of respect of the passing of President Rivlin’s wife, I feel its only right to defer those comments until my next Blog.








About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager and Analyst. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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