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Dakota descendants win round in trust fund case

A federal judge on Tuesday held that the federal government breached its trust responsibility to Dakota descendants in Minnesota by cutting them out of their land.

About 250 descendants say they are entitled to proceeds from the land. But they say the land was wrongly given to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota, Prairie Island Dakota and the Lower Sioux Community.

Judge Charles Lettow of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims agreed on this point. He said the government created a trust to benefit the descendants but failed to keep the land, and any proceeds from it, for the beneficiaries.

"The undisputed record also shows that the government breached its fiduciary duties respecting the trust," Lettow wrote.

The plaintiffs include people who have sought membership in the tribes and a share of per capita profits from casinos the tribes opened on the trust land.

Get the Story:
Group of Dakota wins legal round (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 10/29)

Get the Decision:
Wolfchild v. US (October 27, 2004)