indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Falmouth Institute - December in Las Vegas
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Urban Indian organization seeks new center (11/26)
Tentative schedule for White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
White House invites youth to DC for Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
Leslie Wheelock: Touting nation-to-nation trading and tourism (11/26)
Michael Allen: My ancestor took part in Sand Creek Massacre (11/26)
Dean Suagee: EPA's Clean Power Plan affects Indian Country (11/26)
Mark Rogers: Finding something to be thankful for this holiday (11/26)
Former convicted leader of Crow Tribe seeks to clear his name (11/26)
Blackfeet Nation denies political motive in arrest of ex-leader (11/26)
Appeal set in dispute over Navajo Nation presidential hopeful (11/26)
Judge allows NFL team lawsuit against young Native activists (11/26)
NPR: Alaska Natives put traditional spin on Thanksgiving meal (11/26)
First Nation offers reward for information about missing man (11/26)
First Nations face loss of funds over failure to submit salaries (11/26)
Santa Ysabel Band responds to state lawsuit over online bingo (11/26)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation to meet over liquor sales at casino (11/26)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe could lose casino's liquor license (11/26)
Mashantucket Tribe looks to shift revenues away from gaming (11/26)
Agua Caliente Band selects planner to revamp land near casino (11/26)
Washington gaming panel cuts jobs as non-Indian revenue falls (11/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe to issue IDs at tournament (11/25)
James Giago Davies: Polygamy and shunning in Lakota culture (11/25)
Ben Shelly: There's a lot to be thankful for on the Navajo Nation (11/25)
Cara Cowan Watts: Share the blessings of the Cherokee Nation (11/25)
Joe Sexton: BIA's 'ugly' land policies stuck in the 19th century (11/25)
Jenny Durkan: Cop who killed Native man wasn't charged either (11/25)
Oklahoma claims Citizen Potawatomi Nation must collect taxes (11/25)
Divided court won't extend Seneca Nation immunity to business (11/25)
Vice: North Dakota tribe sees $25M a month in energy royalties (11/25)
Members of Lumbee Tribe proud to carry on tradition of service (11/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe donates $10K to local food pantry (11/25)
Slate: Non-Indians were encouraged to move to tribal territory (11/25)
Column: Remains of Dakota man hanged in 1862 kept in home (11/25)
Family members plead guilty to thefts from reservation town (11/25)
Authorities investigate fatal crash involving Bad River officer (11/25)
Editorial: Yakama Nation must disclose plans for clean water (11/25)
Roy Burton: Montana tribe puts its people at risk with gaming (11/25)
Lawmaker asks BIA to wait on Cowlitz Tribe casino acquisition (11/25)
Gaming compacts on agenda for 2015 session in New Mexico (11/25)
Quapaw Tribe faces even more competition for Kansas casino (11/25)
Pala Band wins final approval for online gaming in New Jersey (11/25)
Mashantucket Tribe still thinking about Massachusetts casino (11/25)
Tim Giago: Cornflakes every Sunday at Indian boarding school (11/24)
Charles Trimble: A time to give thanks -- For whatever reason (11/24)
Mark Trahant: Incoming Alaska governor opens doors to tribes (11/24)
Native Sun News: Four from South Dakota win big at rodeo final (11/24)
Suzan Shown Harjo to receive Medal of Freedom at White House (11/24)
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.