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Minnesota Killer Chafed at Life On Reservation

Across the reservation in the past 30 years, there have been periodic outbreaks of violence that caused fatalities. During a riot over tribal leadership in 1979, two teenagers were killed and several buildings were burned as scores of tribe members, many drunk and carrying rifles, took over the tribal police station.

The tribe's geographic isolation here in the northwest corner of Minnesota has been exacerbated by a long tradition of self-enforced isolation. For more than a century, the tribe has resisted federal programs that would open up the reservation to private land ownership. "We have just not ever been too crazy about white people coming around the reservation," said Lee Cook, a former member of the tribal council.


The Red Lake reservation is geographically remote, and tribal leaders have been resistant to federal programs that would lead to private land ownership. (Morry Gash -- AP)

_____Survivors Speak_____
Two Red Lake High School students wounded in Monday's deadly shooting there talk about their experiences during the attack.

Portrait of a Boy

Weise was born in Minneapolis but spent most of his first three years with his father on the reservation, his grandmother said. His parents never married, she said, and his mother took the boy back to Minneapolis when he was 3. This shuffling from reservation to city is common among Native Americans, as two-thirds of them now live in and around cities.

The boy was often unhappy with his mother. According to Gayle Downwind, a teacher on the reservation who knew Weise and whose son, Sky Grant, was one of his best friends, he was often tormented by his mother's problems with alcohol.

"When he was younger, he said he would run out of the house because there would be yelling and alcohol," she said. "He wasn't sure where he would be going. He ended up at a police station."

He did not like being on the reservation, said his friend Grant, who had Weise at his home for sleepovers nearly once a week for seven years. He refused to participate in powwows and avoided all traditional Indian activities, Grant said.

At school, he was an indifferent student. Peers teased him about his black outfits and his ungainly bulk (well over 200 pounds), and he often became agitated in class. He failed eighth grade and was required to take a nonacademic class, making wigwams, growing wild rice and doing other traditional activities. His friend's mother, Downwind, was his teacher. "He wasn't doing any work," she said. "He didn't function academically. He just sat there and drew pictures."

Grant called all of Weise's drawings "dark," saying, "He drew pictures of war, people getting shot."

Seventeen days before the shooting, Weise brought a videotape of the movie "Elephant," based on the killings at Columbine High, to Grant's house and insisted that they fast-forward to the shooting scenes. "He liked the gore," Grant said.

When the gory part was over, Grant said, Weise got up and went to his grandmother's house. He said he was going home to get his medication and gave the impression that he would be right back. He never came back, and that was the last time Grant saw him.

Whatever the trigger might have been for Weise to turn fantasy in action, it was not apparent to the people he lived with -- his grandmother, an aunt and a 15-year-old cousin.

At noon on the day of the shootings, his grandmother returned home for lunch and found Weise sitting on the couch in the living room, eating a turkey sandwich and drawing. When she came home again at 3 that afternoon, he was gone. He did not leave a note.

Staff writers Ceci Connolly in Minneapolis and Sylvia Moreno in Red Lake and special correspondent Dalton Walker in Red Lake contributed to this report.


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