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home : news : news August 23, 2017

3/28/2017 7:29:00 AM
Lac du Flambeau tribal council expands on road issue
In a statement, some history and clarification
Thompson: tribe is ready for the roads
Whatever the outcome of the April 20 meeting between the town of Lac du Flmbeau and the tribal council for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, The Lakeland Times had questions regarding the capabilities of the tribal road department.

Program manager George Thompson said the tribe has three heavy patrol trucks capable of plowing, sanding, scraping and grading.

"We have four small patrol trucks which we can do plowing and perform basic road repairs with," he said. "The tribe has a front end loader, a grader, and an excavator. We have the equipment to do regular and heavy maintenance."

As for personnel, Thompson said the tribe has six people working in the department and fully capable of maintaining roads.

"The department is equipped to handle sweeping roads, plowing roads, clearing high wind debris, and managing wash-outs," he said. "We have shown we are capable of re-establishing the integrity of roads, handling heavy maintenance and managing emergency situations."

Thompson said if any community members have concerns, he would be more than happy to provide a tour of the tribal road department's facilities. "I want to ensure non-tribal members understand our capabilities and readiness," he said.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.

Brian Jopek

In an effort to provide some history and also clarify its intentions prior to a meeting with the Lac du Flambeau Town Board on April 20, the tribal council for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians issued a statement Thursday.

In recent days and since two articles about the tribe wanting jurisdiction of 29 roads appeared in the March 14 and March 21 editions of The Lakeland Times, questions pertaining to the tribe's reasoning for wanting control of the roads have surfaced.

In an email received by the Times on March 22, a Lac du Flambeau resident, who said he read the article in the March 21 edition, said he lives on Duner Point Lane "which is not on the list you had in the paper but cannot be accessed without traveling on Florsheim Road" off of County Highway F or State Highway 70.

"Two questions I have based on your article," he wrote. "Why does the tribe want the roads back? Why was my road not on the list even though it must be accessed via Florsheim?"

While questions like these are sure to be addressed at the April 20 joint meeting of the tribal council and town board, the statement issued by the tribe Thursday attempts to clear a few things up, one of those items being the history of the tribe's efforts.

'Many disputes over expired easements'

"Beginning in the early 1970s, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians began efforts to regain ownership of our lands and roads under the William Wildcat administration," the statement begins. "Our efforts were recently revitalized after the Tribe conducted research of relevant documents from the Town of Lac du Flambeau, the United States government, and Tribal archives that showed the Bureau of Indian Affairs allocated funding for the construction of various roads on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation beginning in the early 1900s and continuing to 1970."

The tribal council said in the statement some of the BIA documents show when road construction was complete and the roads were then entrusted to the town of Lac du Flambeau for maintenance with the clear understanding that ownership remained with the tribe and the BIA.

"Previous town chairs have acknowledged and documented the true ownership, also recognizing that federal funding for road upgrades were contingent on the roads remaining in Tribal and/or BIA ownership," the statement said. "Over the last generation, the Tribe and the Town of Lac du Flambeau have had many disputes over expired easements and rights-of-way, with each side taking different stances concerning ownership and control. Where disputes existed over ownership, the Tribe had the understanding the Town of Lac du Flambeau was also maintaining records, but it seems their efforts have been minimal. The Town has shown little regard or interest in working together with the Tribe to ensure safe roads for the entire community."

The statement said as the tribe continues to locate documentation solidifying its ownership of community roads, they have also obtained records showing the approval of land leases to the federal government gathered by Indian agents decades ago to fund the design and building of roads on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation.

"It is documented that the Town of Lac du Flambeau accepted these agreements, with the same understanding that ownership remained with the Tribe and the BIA, and the Town would continue to maintain these roads," the statement reads. "Over many years, the Tribe has made repeated efforts to work with the Town of Lac du Flambeau. The safety of the roads in the Lac du Flambeau community is of the utmost importance to the entire Tribal Council. We want what's best for the entire community, and we thought that having government-to-government relations with the Town of Lac du Flambeau would be in everyone's best interest. However, our efforts have been met with untrue accusations, and a complete lack of respect for our burial sites, our Tribal programs, and Tribal law."

In conclusion, the tribal council's statement mentioned rumors about the road issue in the community.

"We share today that the Tribe will not deny any resident of Lac du Flambeau access to their home, nor will any 'fee' be imposed on residents," the statement reads. "Our maintenance of Tribal roads is funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and we will be following the same regulations as the Town of Lac du Flambeau did - and we will be making the needed repairs that are long overdue. The roads in Lac du Flambeau will be safe and accessible for all users."

At the end of the statement are the names of tribal council members Dee Allen, Jamie Allen, Steven Beson, Eric Chapman, Betty Jo Graveen, John Johnson, Frank Mitchell, Alice Soulier, William Stone, Sr., George Thompson, Melinda Young and president Joseph Wildcat, Sr.

The statement was released by Kim Swisher Communications, an Eagle River-based public relations firm that handles media queries for the tribe.

Gaulke's response

Lac du Flambeau town chairman Matt Gaulke said he's encouraged with the message the tribal council is sending.

"I was pleased to see in that last paragraph there's no intentions of blocking off any roads or charging fees," he said. "To me, it was more of a positive. Anyway, so far as I know, our meeting is still planned for April 20 and we'll go from there."

Gaulke then mentioned the election on April 4, the reason he'd asked for the meeting to take place later in the month.

"That might all change and it wouldn't be up to me," he said. "You can't do any planning until afterwards."

The meeting between the two governing bodies is scheduled for a 9 a.m. start in the tribal council chambers.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Article comment by: paul jones

This article is an astonishing piece of a deplorable lack of journalist curiosity regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” since The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924! That single Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, made moot all previous common law-state and federal-including Presidential Executive Orders, Commerce Clause and Treaty Clause alleged Indian Treaties (if any U.S. Senate confirmed Indian treaties actually existed pre-1924 Citizenship) regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” so often touted by politicians and Indian advocates as being legitimate law.

And yet, politicians and MSM continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make distinguishable the capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.
The United States Constitution makes for no provisions for:
1. Indian sovereign nations. None of the asserted tribes possess any of the attributes of being a ‘sovereign nation:’ a. No Constitution recognition b. No international recognition c. No fixed borders d. No military e. No currency f. No postal system g. No passports
2. Treaties with its own constituency
3. Indian reservations whereby a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” reside exclusively and to the exclusion of all others, on land-with rare exception-that is owned by the People of the United States according to federal documents readily available on-line that notes rights of renters as ‘occupancy and use’ by these distinguished U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” only with the land owned by the People of the United States.
4. Recognition of ‘Indian citizenship’ asserted by various tribes. There is no international recognition of “Indian citizenship” as there is no ‘nation’ from which citizenship is derived.
A simple question for politicians and MSM to answer…a question so simple, it is hard:
“Where is the proclamation ratified by 1/3rd of the voters of the United States that amends the Constitution to make the health, welfare, safety and benefits of a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

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