Law | Trust

Court stops lawsuit over Fond du Lac Band land-into-trust bid





The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians can't be sued in state court for filing a land-into-trust application, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

The tribe submitted an application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the one-acre site that houses the historic Carter Hotel in trust. The city of Duluth went to state court and claimed a 1994 agreement requires its approval for any trust acquisitions.

The Minnesota Supreme Court, however, said the agreement did not waive the tribe's sovereign immunity in state court. So the state courts lack jurisdiction to resolve the dispute.

"The band is immune to suit in state court, unless it waives its sovereign immunity," Justice Alan C. Page wrote in the unanimous decision. "The band did not waive its immunity to suit in state court in the 1994 agreements, which modify the 1986 agreements."

The tribe did waive its immunity in federal court so the city could pursue a lawsuit there. However, the federal courts have been favorable to the tribe in interpreting the 1994 agreement as part of another lawsuit over gaming revenues.

Get the Story:
Duluth and Fond du Lac Tribe dispute decided by the Federal Courts (Northland's News Center 3/12)
MN Supreme Court Issues Ruling Concerning Carter Hotel Dispute (KDAL 3/12)

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision:
City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (March 12, 2014)

Related Stories:
Court revives suit over Fond du Lac Band's land-into-trust bid (4/16)