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Red Lake shootings
Troubled teen kills nine, and himself, in Red Lake
Recounting the horror of the shootings
Red Lake stunned by shootings, and by spotlight
Starting the long process of healing
Political leaders mourn Red Lake deaths
Band members in the Twin Cities grieve from a distance
Searching for reasons behind school shootings
A glimpse into the life of Jeff Weise
Shooting shows benefits, limits of school safety plans
Red Lake shooting stirs memories at Rocori High School


For Red Lake chairman, shooting becomes more personal
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Red Lake tribal chairman Buck Jourdain, far right, speaks to the media about the shootings on his reservation last week. He's in the spotlight even more, now that his 16-year-old son has been arrested in connection with the case. (Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Red Lake, Minn. — (AP) - Hours after the school shooting that devastated his reservation, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Buck Jourdain said the tribe was going through "the darkest days in the history of our people."

A week later, it grew darker still for Jourdain and his teenage son, Louis. The chairman confirmed Tuesday that Louis Jourdain was arrested Sunday as part of the ongoing investigation into the shootings that left 10 dead.

"I know my son and he is incapable of committing such an act," Jourdain said in a prepared statement. "I strongly believe my son will be cleared of these charges."

The tribal chairman for less than eight months, the 40-year-old Jourdain took office as the Red Lake Band of Chippewa's youngest-ever leader.

His youth was spent in a tarpaper shack on the reservation, with an outhouse and an outdoor woodpile to feed the furnace in northwestern Minnesota's brutal winters; but he's also brought a dash of the modern politician to the job. He jogged 80 miles through all the districts in the reservation in the final days of his campaign and talked openly about his troubled youth and 20 years of sobriety.

Jourdain has been the public face of the Red Lake reservation since the March 21 shootings, where 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed nine people and then himself. In the days afterward, Jourdain at times looked anguished but still youthful and commanding, a red shirt straining over muscular arms and his long black hair in a ponytail.

"Our community is devastated by this event," Jourdain said the day after the shootings. "We have never seen anything like this in the history of our tribe, and without doubt these are the darkest days in the history of our people. We are in utter disbelief and shock."

Growing up on the Red Lake reservation, Jourdain chopped wood and hauled water for his family. But he also loved books and learning, as he would write on his Web site.

"As a 5th grader I read everything in site," Jourdain wrote. "I could spew a ton of useless information at kids that they would get sick of rather quickly."

Jourdain graduated from Red Lake High School, the same school where five students, a security guard, a teacher and Weise were fatally shot. Jourdain and his future wife Alberta moved to Duluth, where Jourdain attended college and started to work in recovery programs.

On his Web site, Jourdain writes of becoming more interested in working with young people and helping to bridge the generation gap between the tribe's elders and its youth.

The Jourdains returned to the Red Lake Reservation to raise their three sons, teens Phillip, Louis, and Andrew - who was 3 in the summer of 2004. A picture on Jourdain's Web site describes Louis as "my pride and joy."

The elder Jourdain was active in youth programs, working with the Red Lake Nation Boys and Girls Club and organizing wilderness camps for young people.

Red Lake High school principal Chris Dunshee said Louis had not been a discipline problem. "He was a pretty good student, to tell you the truth," Dunshee said.

He also praised the tribal leader as a parent. "I just feel sorry for Buck," he said. "If it could happen to his son, it could happen to anybody because Buck is a good parent."

Jourdain made an unsuccessful run for Red Lake tribal chairman in 2002. In 2004, he ran again, putting an emphasis on the tribe's traditions but also promising a fresh face and greater accountability for a tribe that's seen its share of turbulent politics.

That includes a 1979 takeover by a group of Chippewa who burned the home of then-tribal chairman Roger Jourdain, who's not closely related to the current chairman.

"He's engaged. He's involved. He seems very intelligent," state Sen. Rod Skoe, whose district includes the reservation, said of Floyd Jourdain.

Jourdain has plenty of support on the reservation, said Edward Cook, 47, a self-employed tow truck operator who was at a gas station on the reservation Tuesday.

Jourdain replaced an interim chairman who agreed to serve after the sudden death of the previous chairman in April 2003. Cook said the tribal government was in bad shape.

"He inherited a mess," Cook said. When asked if he thought Jourdain would clean it up, he said, "I think once he gets educated to the mess he inherited, he will."

Since becoming chairman, Jourdain has led the tribe in its negotiations with the state of Minnesota in what would be an unprecedented partnership to open a casino in the Twin Cities, with a goal of helping the tribe climb out of poverty.

"Join me as we step into a new leadership together," Jourdain wrote days before the election. "A vote for me is a vote for a refreshing new change for the Red Lake Nation."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)