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Dear Neighbor, from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe - MessAge Media: Other Opinions

Dear Neighbor, from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

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Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2019 8:00 am

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe would like to take this opportunity to respond to an article in the April 2019 Mille Lacs County Quarterly Newsletter regarding the pending law enforcement litigation between the Mille Lacs Band and Mille Lacs County.

The article makes several statements that are inconsistent with the Band’s objectives in the lawsuit. The article also suggests various actions the Band might take against its non-Indian neighbors if it prevails in the lawsuit. The Band is very concerned that these suggestions will deepen animosity and divisions in our community. 

In 2016, Mille Lacs County terminated a law enforcement agreement with the Band and launched a campaign to prevent Band police officers from exercising law enforcement authority. This led to a public safety emergency on the Band’s Reservation. 

The Band filed its lawsuit in November 2017 for the sole purpose of restoring the authority of its police department. The Band’s police department plays an important role in providing a safe and secure environment for Band members and non-Band members and in combating drug trafficking and gang activity that has plagued our community. It does so at Band expense, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

The law enforcement authority the Band seeks is not a threat to non-Indians. The Band is not seeking authority to prosecute non-Indians. It seeks only the authority to investigate violations of federal and state law to maintain law and order. Non-Indian offenders apprehended by Band officers will be prosecuted in federal or state court, where they will enjoy all protections afforded by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Minnesota.

Although the Band and the County signed a new agreement in September 2018, the County insisted that it terminate 90 days after the Band’s lawsuit ends. Thus, if the Band were to drop its lawsuit now, the new agreement would terminate and we would be right back where we were from July 2016 until September 2018, facing a law enforcement crisis and public safety emergency.

One of the underlying issues in the Band’s lawsuit is whether the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, as established in an 1855 Treaty, still exists. Resolving this issue is necessary to determine the scope of the Band’s law enforcement authority. From the Band’s perspective, if the court agrees that the Reservation still exists, the only thing that would happen is the authority of the Band’s police department would be confirmed and the Band would be able to continue to provide law enforcement services to Indians and non-Indians on its Reservation at Band expense. 

The Band has no other agenda in the lawsuit. The County Newsletter article seeks to justify the County’s position in the litigation and the cost to County taxpayers not by pointing to anything the Band has done but by speculating about what the Band might do. Despite the article’s claims, the Band is not seeking authority to try and punish non-Indians. It is not seeking authority to regulate non-Indian fishing in Mille Lacs Lake. It is not seeking authority to tax, zone or regulate non-Indians. It is not seeking to expand federal or Band environmental authority.

For example, the article claims the Band might claim jurisdiction over a portion of Mille Lacs Lake, including authority over non-Indian fishing. But the Band has never made any such claim and makes no such claim in its lawsuit. The Band has spent years in cooperation with the state developing a co-management protocol for fishing in Mille Lacs Lake under the 1837 Treaty, in which the Band and other tribes regulate Indian harvests and the State regulates non-Indian harvests. The Band has no intent to disrupt that protocol.

Moreover, while the Band claims a portion of Mille Lacs Lake is within its Reservation, the only practical effect that has had is that other 1837 Treaty Tribes have agreed not to exercise their fishing rights in that part of the lake. If the County succeeds in disestablishing the Reservation, the ironic effect could be increased Indian fishing pressure in the southern part of Mille Lacs Lake by other 1837 Treaty Tribes.

The County Newsletter article concludes by suggesting that if the Band prevails in its lawsuit, it might exercise “new and as-yet unimaginable” powers. This is precisely the type of fearmongering that can give rise to hostility towards the Band and exacerbate divisions in our community. 

We have provided more in-depth information on the Mille Lacs Band website at millelacsband.com which may help bring understanding that the Band’s intent is to be a good neighbor and maintain a safe community for both Band members and non-Band members. Additional questions may call (320) 630-8195.

Miigwech, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe


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  • fightinhate posted at 9:18 am on Thu, May 23, 2019.

    fightinhate Posts: 295

    "...in your own back yard." Is this what you told your imaginary elder friend? Keep spouting the same old, tired, useless talking points while we fry some fresh walleye and celebrate our treaty rights!

  • thinkbeforeyouspeak posted at 12:26 am on Thu, May 23, 2019.

    thinkbeforeyouspeak Posts: 114

    These are the direct reflections of a MLB Elder, so...…...keep tossing hate instead of fightin' the hate in your own back yard.

  • fightinhate posted at 11:28 am on Tue, May 21, 2019.

    fightinhate Posts: 295

    Another chimook telling "Indians" how they should live, as if the problems he cites are only unique to tribal lands. Yep, he knows more about the Indians than they know about themselves.........

  • thinkbeforeyouspeak posted at 6:18 am on Sat, May 18, 2019.

    thinkbeforeyouspeak Posts: 114


    'a true election currently CANNOT proceed past the primary'.

  • thinkbeforeyouspeak posted at 6:07 am on Sat, May 18, 2019.

    thinkbeforeyouspeak Posts: 114

    With regards to this article, written by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the Band states that it 'does not intend' to do a lot of things...….

    I agree.

    It is and has been proven time and time again, with millions of dollars at their disposal, the Mille Lacs Band DOES NOT INTEND to take a serious stance at putting a stop to the high crime, murder, opioid crisis, and gang problems on their reservation.

    Also, it is proven that the Mille Lacs Band time and time again, DOES NOT INTEND to bring it's fishing practices into the 21st Century, with fishing pressures of the 21st Century, instead living by a Treaty of the 19th Century, made for fishing pressures of the 19th Century!

    Furthermore, the Mille Lacs Band time and time again, enables it's Band members with criminal records, addiction, gang relations, and predator status with their enrollment checks. It's time to cut-off the money supply to the criminals, and further consider disenrollment, based on conduct detrimental to the tribe.

    Fix your back yard and come into the 21st century with your logic and practices, and you might not have to worry so much about 'deepening the animosity and divisions in your community'.

    Everything the Band stated in their response is of their own doing.

    1) The high crime, drug trafficking, and gangs are in THEIR BACK YARD.

    2) The 1837 Treaty is outdated and was made for fishing pressures of the 1800's, not for the fishing pressures of the 21st Century.

    3) Stop enabling your band members with felony records with monthly enrollment checks. Consider disenrollment for the repeat offending felons.

    4) The MLB's election process is a farce. The MLB Chief is a criminal, found guilty in a court of law. Yet, due to an outdated mockery of an election system, a true election can proceed past the primary. It's time to get a fresh face as the face of the Mille Lacs Band that is willing to work WITH their non-Indian neighbors, instead of always getting in front of a microphone/camera pointing fingers, preaching division.

    These are the words of a MLB member Elder, forwarded to me to post, due to the fact they are afraid of reprecussions and/or retaliation.


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