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Twenty-seven tribal nations and four tribal organizations on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in support of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ (Bad River Band) fight to eject Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline from its reservation in northern Wisconsin, along the shores of Lake Superior.

The basis of the Bad River Band’s lawsuit is Enbridge’s right-of-way with the sovereign nation to operate the Line 5 that expired in 2013 and was not renewed by the tribe. Despite the Bad River Band refusing to renew the right-of-way, the Canadian oil and gas giant continues to operate the pipeline and refuses to leave the Reservation.  

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At this point, the Bad River Band contends Enbridge Energy, Inc. is trespassing on its tribal land.

In June 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that Enbridge is consciously and willfully trespassing on the Bad River Band’s reservation.

“No right-of-way means no right to operate on tribal land, just like on any other type of land holding in the United States,” Bay Mills Indian Community President Whitney Gravelle.said “As sovereign governments and landowners, it is the absolute right of every Tribal Nation to expel any entity operating on their lands without consent.”

The court ordered Enbridge to decommission the portions of the Line 5 oil and gas network the corporation operates without a right-of-way on tribal lands. Enbridge appealed that decision to the 7th Circuit, and the tribal amicus brief supports the Bad River Band’s right to evict the trespasser.

“A foreign corporation that makes billions of dollars a year is asking the U.S. courts to also ignore its on-going trespass and allow it to trample over the rights of sovereign Tribal Nations in the name of profit,” said Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Staff Attorney Wesley James Furlong.

The amicus brief advocates for the sovereign rights of tribal nations to expel trespassers from their lands and demonstrates how Enbridge’s trespass perpetuates the tragic history of stealing Native lands. The legal filing explains how U.S. courts could end corporate land grabs by upholding the inherent sovereign authority of Tribal Nations to expel trespassers from their lands. NARF drafted the brief on behalf of the 27 Tribal Nations and 4 organizations.

“Tribal Nations certainly can evict and eject trespassers like Enbridge who operate illegally on tribal lands without permission. The appeal court’s decision in this case will affect the rights that all Tribal Nations have to protect themselves from corporate land grabs,” said Furlong.

The 27 Tribal Nations and 4 organizations who submitted the amicus brief include:

  1. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  2. Barona Band of Mission Indians
  3. Bay Mills Indian Community
  4. Chippewa Cree Tribe
  5. Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  6. Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  7. Jamul Indian Village of California
  8. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
  9. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
  10. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  11. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  12. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
  13. Lower Sioux Indian Community of the State of Minnesota
  14. Muscogee (Creek) Nation
  15. Navajo Nation
  16. Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
  17. Oneida Nation
  18. Pueblo of Isleta
  19. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
  20. Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
  21. San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe
  22. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
  23. St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
  24. Stockbridge-Munsee Community
  25. Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation
  26. Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
  27. White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  28. California Tribal Chairpersons’ Association
  29. Coalition of Large Tribes
  30. National Congress of American Indian
  31. United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, Inc.

Read the Amicus Brief: https://www.narf.org/nill/documents/20231018bad-river-enbridge-tribal-amicus.pdf

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