Ivanka Trump touts help for workers on visit to Minnesota, but draws criticism from environmentalists and Native women

Protesters could be heard from outside the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park on Monday.
Ivanka Trump visits Duluth Pack, where the CEO signs the president's Pledge to American Workers. 

Ivanka Trump visits Duluth Pack, where the CEO signs the president's Pledge to American Workers. 

Ivanka Trump paid a visit to Duluth and Bloomington on Monday, but her stops in Minnesota were not without controversy. 

Serving as an adviser to her father, President Trump, she stopped by Duluth Pack in Duluth Monday morning with U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota). 

During the visit, Duluth Pack's CEO Tom Sega signed the president's Pledge to American Workers, which is a commitment to worker education and training programs. 

Outside the store in Canal Park, a group of protesters could be heard yelling, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Furthermore, people have taken to the Duluth Pack Facebook page to criticize the 100-year-old outdoors company for accepting the visit from the Trump administration, citing its efforts to strip environmental protections and push forward with the Twin Metals mining project in northeastern Minnesota. 

Ivanka Trump left right after the signing, but Berhardt and Stauber remained to answer questions about the pledge and the mining project.

In a statement, Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters Tom Landwehr called Ivanka Trump and Berhardt's visit a "galling reminder of the corruption and administrative malfeasance behind the relentless push to fast-track dangerous sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters."

Landwehr mentioned the Trump administration's efforts to remove environmental protections, including those that directly protect clean air, water and land in Minnesota. 

"Neither Ivanka Trump nor Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a friend to Minnesota or Minnesotans. This administration shall be remembered for its efforts to destroy forever the cherished Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota's greatest natural wonder," he said. 

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Bloomington visit

After the visit in Duluth to tout jobs, Ivanka Trump and Stauber switched gears to head to Bloomington to open the first Missing and Murdered Native American Cold Case Office.

“President Trump continues to deliver on his promises to put all Minnesotans first. Today, we welcome Secretary Bernhardt and Ivanka Trump to Minnesota as they prioritize justice for missing or murdered Native Americans by establishing the first cold case office in the country and reaffirm President Trump’s commitment to blue-collar workers," RNC Spokesperson Preya Samsundar said in a statement. 

The office is a step toward addressing a crisis among the country's Native communities: the disproportionate amount of violence being experienced by indigenous Americans, especially women. Native American women in some areas are more than 10 times more likely than the rest of the population to be murdered, U.S. Department of Justice data show.

But Ivanka Trump's visit to Bloomington to establish this office also drew criticism, especially from Minnesota Democrats who said President Trump uses derogatory language to describe Native women and his administration's lack of support for tribal nations.

The cold case office in Bloomington is one of several moves the federal government has been making to tackle the problem. There has been bipartisan legislation, and earlier this year, President Trump proclaimed May 5, 2020, Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day.

This came several months after he signed an executive order launching Operation Lady Justice, which set up an interagency task force as part of "an aggressive government-wide strategy for ending the cycle of violence and providing grants to improve public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities."

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