indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Minn. tribe wins another round in reservation dispute
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a Minnesota county's attempt to wipe most of the Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation off the map.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the contentious lawsuit, which has cost taxpayers in Mille Lacs County more than $1 million in legal fees. The court determined that the county, along with a private bank, had no standing to challenge the boundaries of the reservation.

The suit, the court concluded, amounted to mere speculation and rumor about the tribe's plans for 61,000 disputed acres. "Neither the county nor the bank has shown that it is in immediate danger of sustaining threatened injury traceable to an action of the band," wrote Judge Lavenski R. Smith for the majority.

But the decision left open the possibility that the case, which has strained tensions among Indian and non-Indian residents, could be submitted in the the future. The judges dismissed the suit without prejudice, meaning the county and the bank could claim they are being harmed by the tribe's use of its own land.

Melanie Benjamin, the tribe's chief executive, praised the court's ruling. "I hope we can put this lawsuit behind us and find a way to move forward in a new spirit of respect and cooperation in Mille Lacs County," she said in a statement.

County officials, however, are considering a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In recent years, the justices have rejected similar suits that seek to diminish the boundaries of reservations.

Minnesota attorney general Mike Hatch, a Democrat, sided with the county and the bank in the dispute, which originated in fears that the tribe would assert greater authority over non-Indians within reservation boundaries. The state previously challenged, and lost, a major Ojibwe fishing rights decision before the Supreme Court in 2000.

South Dakota attorney general Larry Long, a Republican, also supported the county. Long's predecessor won a 1998 Supreme Court ruling that reduced the boundaries of the Yankton Sioux Reservation, and in a related dispute, Long continues to battle the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe's attempt to restore land that was once part of its reservation. That case has been in the courts for more than 10 years.

The dispute over the Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation centers over 61,000 acres that the county claims does not belong to the tribe. The county says it has been led to believe that the reservation is only 4,000 acres.

The larger reservation threatens the county's tax base and legal authority, the county argues. Local officials say the tribe will seek to impose stringent environmental standards for air and water. They also believe the tribe will assert jurisdiction over non-Indians.

The tribe has applied for a "treatment as state" designation from the Environmental Protection Agency. But the federal courts have already ruled that this designation is well within tribal authority.

Get the Decision:
COUNTY OF MILLE LACS v. BENJAMIN (March 9, 2003)

Case Documents:
COUNTY OF MILLE LACS v. BENJAMIN (8th Circuit)

Relevant Links:
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe - http://www.millelacsojibwe.org

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe confirms lack of easement for pipeline (8/30)
Supplies needed for #NoDAPL Defenders of Sacred Water School (8/30)
Lakota Country Times: Students witness history at pipeline camp (8/30)
Vi Waln: Media distorts peaceful nature of sacred #NoDAPL camp (8/30)
Police officer for Navajo Nation killed in the line of duty in Arizona (8/30)
Indian Health Service hosts conference with Direct Service Tribes (8/30)
Tim Giago: Indian Country still suffering from boarding school era (8/30)
Mark Trahant: Congressional hopefuls debate on Fort Peck Nation (8/30)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation invests in needs of communities (8/30)
Native Sun News: Ruling awaited in Indian Child Welfare Act case (8/30)
Clara Caufield: An appreciation for a modern-day 'Teeth Woman' (8/30)
Native Sun News Editorial: Lands were taken from our ancestors (8/30)
Mike Myers: Historic ties between the Haudenosaunee and Sioux (8/30)
Mark Anthony Rolo: Tribes remain at mercy of bad federal policies (8/30)
Congressional hopeful seeks debate on South Dakota reservation (8/30)
Federal judge stays off Ute Tribe sovereignty suit despite protest (8/30)
North Fork Rancheria wins final decision in gaming compact case (8/30)
Lytton Band in negotiations for new agreement with labor union (8/30)
Chumash Tribe enters agreement for law enforcement at casino (8/30)
Former Nottawaseppi Huron Band employee sentenced for theft (8/30)
Defenders of the Water School opens at pipeline resistance camp (8/29)
Dave Archambault: Stopping the desecration of our Mother Earth (8/29)
Lakota Country Times: Resisters dispute emergency declaration (8/29)
Mark Trahant: State erects roadblock at peaceful #NoDAPL camp (8/29)
Latoya Lonelodge: Witnessing history at Camp of Sacred Stones (8/29)
Jon Eagle: Land remains sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (8/29)
Albert Bender: Tribes join together at Camp of the Sacred Stones (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Law of Christendom at play in #NoDAPL battle (8/29)
Arvol Looking Horse: Saving our Earth from energy development (8/29)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on 4 bills (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe hosts groundbreaking for meat processing facility (8/29)
Native Sun News: Youth learn about traditions with Native games (8/29)
Delphine Red Shirt: Taking control of teaching our own languages (8/29)
Denver American Horse: Veterans column in the Lakota language (8/29)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.