Casino Stalker | Litigation

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community suspends judges in casino flap

The Ojibwa Casino in Baraga, Michigan. Photo from 500 Nations

The leader of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan suspended two tribal court judges on Monday in a dispute over plans for a new casino.

The tribal council agreed to purchase the Baraga Lakeside Inn for $2.75 million with the intent of building a new Ojibwa Casino at the site. The decision came after tribal members approved the deal at a community meeting.

A lawsuit in tribal court, however, argues that the referendum was illegal. It was filed by Fred Dakota, a former president and father of Chief Judge Bradley Dakota.

As a result, current President Donald Shalifoe suspended the younger Dakota without pay. He also suspended Associate Judge Violet Friisvall-Ayres, who is presiding over the lawsuit.

"From this minute, you and your associate judge are suspended without pay, and I will have the tribal police deliver papers as per tribal council," Shalifoe said in a text message to Dakota yesterday afternoon, The Marquette Daily Mining Gazette reported.

But Dakota said the council lacks authority to suspend him. He said he will continue his duties as judge even though he lacks a salary.

"This doesn't take away my authority as a judge," Dakota told the paper. "We're elected by the people the same as he is and we're going to keep on doing our job."

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community purchased this hotel with the intention of opening a new casino on the waterfront in Baraga, Michigan. Photo from The Baraga Lakeside Inn

Get the Story:
KBIC suspends judges (The Marquette Daily Mining Gazette 8/12)
Judges suspended by Tribal Council following KBIC civil lawsuit hearing (Upper Michigan's Source 8/11)
KBIC considers relocation of Ojibwa casino (ABC News 8/8)
KBIC finalizes $2.75 million purchase of property for new casino (Upper Michigan's Source 8/6)

Related Stories:
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community goes ahead with gaming plan (08/05)