Up to 200 Red Lake Indians, fearing for their lives or safety, have fled the tense and embattled reservation here, according to Minnesota officials who have contacted many of the reservation refugees.
But today, many of those who stayed on the reservation attended the funerals of two teen-age boys, the random victims of a riot and gunfire that broke out Saturday.
A number of the refugees have fled to Bemidji, 35 miles from the reservation. They are staying in motels or with relatives. Others have fled to Minneapolis or St. Paul, 200 miles to the south. Still others have gone to Duluth and Thief River Falls for safety.
Several of those who fled are close associates of tribal Chairman Roger Jourdain, who is among the primary targets of the dissident Indians' wrath.
Jourdian has been in self-imposed exile since he fled his burning home late Saturday under a hail of gunfire.
One Jourdain politcal ally, who is hiding in Bemidji, said, "I'm scared as hell, and wish somebody would do something to let us come back. I'd go back now, but my wife and kids are in shock, and if I went back I might put all of my relatives in danger. I don't want to sound like a coward, but I have to think of them."
There has been no gunfire reported since Sunday night. Even so, Indians and authorities are still nervous that more blood may be shed.
Nathan Joe Head, acting superintendent of the reservation's Bureau of Indian Affairs office, said he believes that many people fled and are not returning because they fear that a large number of weapons stolen from the reservation's law enforcement and court center are still in the hands of last Saturday's rioters.
Weapons, ammunition and previously confiscated alcohol were taken from the $1.2 million building, which was destroyed by fire at the height of the rioting.
FBI agents have been on the reservation since Monday, but the FBI refuses to accept any policing responsibilites. A 40-man special U.S. marshal's task force is camped a few miles outside the reservation in case further violence breaks out.
The agents and marshals, however, were nowhere in sight when Vernon Lussier, 15, and Allen Cloud, 14, were buried today in separate funerals, each attended by about 100 tribe members. About 2,000 people normally live within the reservation boundaries.