fbpx
 

MILLE LACS INDIAN RESERVATION — On Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote a 93-page opinion on Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe v. County of Mille Lacs affirming that the boundaries of reservation were never dissolved, confirming the Tribe’s sovereignty on its lands. The Tribe filed a federal lawsuit in 2017 arguing that the (Mille Lacs) county prevented the Mille Lacs Tribal Police from policing within the reservation boundaries. 

“This ruling affirms what Shaboshkung began fighting for in the 1860’s, what every leader since has carried on, and what we have always known—that our reservation was never diminished, that we are non-removable, and this reservation will be our home into perpetuity,” said Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin in a press release on Saturday, March 5. 

 The County maintained in the lawsuit that the 1855 Treaty Reservation was terminated by. Congress by subsequent treaties, statues, and agreements with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and, also, that the county law enforcement did not interfere with tribal law enforcement’s ability to police. The Tribe argued that the county undermined tribal policing, contributing to an influx of criminal activity. 

“Over the course of more than 160 years, Congress has never clearly expressed an intention to disestablish or diminish the Mille Lacs Reservation,” wrote Judge Nelson in her decision for Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe v. Cnty. Mille Lacs yesterday. “The Court therefore affirms what the Band has maintained for the better part of two centuries—the Mille Lacs Reservation’s boundaries remain as they were under Article 2 of the Treaty of 1855.”

Judge Nelson wrote thought her opinion of the relentless efforts of Shaboshkung and other ancestors to hold the United States accountable for keeping President Lincoln’s word that the Band could remain on its lands forever. 

“While the federal government and the State of Minnesota both acknowledge the 1855 reservation boundary, Mille Lacs County has refused to do so,” the Tribe said in a press release. 

Over the next several days, attorneys for the Mille Lacs Band will be reviewing Judge Nelson’s opinion, but her decision is considered a historic milestone. 

“It is our sincere hope that this decision will allow us to move beyond the need to fight with Mille Lacs County over our very existence; instead we invite the county – and all of our local governments – to come along side us and join with us in the fight for a better future for all of our communities for generations to come,” said Benjamin. 

Mille Lacs Reservation is located in east central Minnesota and is the perpetual home of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. According to the tribe, more than 2,300 of the Band’s 4,700 members live within reservation boundaries. The Band supports its members with a variety of services for economic, social and cultural advancement, including health services, early childhood and youth centers and economic development planning.

More Stories Like This

Food Sovereignty Initiative is in Full Swing at Zuni Youth Enrichment Project
Cortez Masto, Gallego Introduce BADGES Act to Strengthen Tribal Law Enforcement 
University of Kansas Says It Has Native American Remains in Museum Collection
AAIA Aiming to ReACTivate Ancestral Connections at 8th Annual Repatriation Conference
A Road Map Home: Reclaiming Buried Relatives from Carlisle Indian School

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.