Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Betty Jo Krenz, a former social worker for the Spirit Lake tribe who has helped blow the whistle on the tribe’s child protection scandal.
“Kudos,” Krenz told me when I asked her what she would say to Rep. Kevin Cramer in response to his alleged tirade against tribal officials last week. “Way to go.”
Krenz told me that she’s happy Rep. Cramer spoke out. She said that many on the reservation agree with what he said, but are fearful of speaking out themselves. “Everybody walks on eggshells,” she told me. “Nobody wants to offend anyone.”
She also pointed me to a PBS Frontline two-part documentary which will be premiering later today following one woman’s battles in Spirit Lake’s tribal courts to protect her children. Krenz is a close friend and confident of Robin Charboeanu who is the subject of the documentary, called “Kind Hearted Woman.”
It will delve deeply into the tribe’s problems with child abuse, and the unwillingness of some tribal officials to stop it.
For all the heat Rep. Cramer has received for his comments to tribal officials, and for his skepticism of provisions of the Violence Against Women Act which expands tribal court jurisdiction, there aren’t nearly enough people asking if maybe he was right to say what he said.