Law | National

Mdewakanton descendants want Supreme Court to hear land case






Sheldon Peters Wolfchild is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that seeks the rights to land promised to the loyal Mdewakanton in Minnesota. Photo by Steven McGeary

Mdewakanton descendants who are seeking rights to the land promised to their ancestors are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case.

In 1863, Congress promised 12 square miles of land in present-day Minnesota to the loyal Mdewakanton. But the land was never set aside for the people.

Efforts to account for the land were initially successful in the early 2000s. But in recent years the federal courts have repeatedly ruled against the Wolfchild plaintiffs so they are seeking one last shot at reviving the case.

"We are here today to ask the Supreme Court hear our case, please," lead plaintiff Sheldon Peters Wolfchild told The Fargo Forum.

The latest ruling came from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in June. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel said the Wolfchild plaintiffs lacked a "private remedy" under the 1863 law that would allow them to assert rights to the 12 square miles of land.

"Because the loyal Mdewakanton are not entitled to a declaration of the exclusive right and title of the twelve square miles under the 1863 Act, the loyal Mdewakanton have no property rights upon which to base federal common law claims for ejectment and trespass," Judge Myron Bright wrote for the majority.

The Wolfchild plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to hear the dispute on two prior occasions. Both times, the justices declined to review the matter.

Turtle Talk has posted briefs from the 8th Circuit case, Wolfchild v. Redwood County.

Read More on the Story:
Sioux wants Supreme Court to grant them promised land in heart of Minnesota (The Fargo Forum 9/1)
Mdewakanton Sioux descendants ask U.S. Supreme Court for ruling on land dispute (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/31)

8th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Wolfchild v. Redwood County (June 1, 2016)

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