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Law | Trust
Turtle Talk: Issues at play in Dakota trust case


"There’s no reason to take a position on the Federal Circuit’s decision reversing the trial court in the Wolfchild case, but there are several big-picture issues that may have affected the Circuit’s decision or otherwise demonstrate that something is horribly wrong in federal Indian law.

First, the lawyer’s history propounded by the trial court, the Federal Circuit, and necessarily the parties is troubling. Let us not forget, as it would be very easy to do from the Federal Circuit’s opinion, that this whole thing started with the violent and illegal acts of the United States government. It was the United States’ actions that precipitated the so-called “rebellion” of the Dakota people near Fort Snelling. And it was the local non-Indian populace, the Army, and President Lincoln that characterized the “rebellion” as a series of “massacres.” The people called the “Loyal Mdewakanton” and the people, predominantly plaintiffs, that were not so “loyal” were all part of this community utterly ravaged by the United States. The end of this war in 1862 resulted in the largest mass execution of anyone in American history — about 40 men and boys, all Dakota. And the majority of Dakota people in the area were rounded up and sent on a death march that included at least three or four states, killing many, many people.

None of that is relevant to this case, apparently. But it really should be."

Get the Story:
Comments on the Wolfchild Case (Turtle Talk 3/10)

Federal Circuit Decision:
Wolfchild v US (March 10, 2009)

Court of Federal Claims Decision:
Wolfchild v. US (December 16, 2005)

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