Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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Trust
Dakota descendants fight for land trust rights


As many as 22,000 Dakota descendants from Minnesota to Nebraska are part of a landmark breach of trust suit.

Sheldon Wolfchild sued the United States over a trust that was created in the late 1800s. The federal government promised to hold land and income in trust for "loyal" Mdewakantons in Minnesota.

But the land and the money never made it to the correct beneficiaries, Wolfchild says. Instead, it went to three tribes: the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Prairie Island Indian Community and the Lower Sioux Indian Community, which operate successful casinos.

In October 2004, Judge Charles Lettow of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims sided with Wolfchild. The judge said the government breached its trust to the loyal Mdewakantons and owes their descendants money.

Lettow reaffirmed his decision in December 2005. He is now inviting the three Sioux tribes to participate in the case to help determine the damages he intends to award to the Wolfchild plaintiffs.

Get the Story:
Sunday: A 'great rift' widens (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/22)
pwlat
More at stake than money, descendants say (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/23)
Historical timeline (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/21)

Court Decision:
Wolfchild v. US (October 27, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community - http://www.ccsmdc.org

Related Stories:
Dakota descendants await payment in trust case (8/14)
Judge reaffirms ruling in Dakota trust fund lawsuit (12/19)
Meetings set in Mdewakanton trust fund lawsuit (01/28)
Dakota descendants win round in trust fund case (10/29)
Dakota descendants file trust mismanagement suit (11/19)
Minn. tribes challenged on membership policies (11/17)