Minnesota COA Orders Trial Court to Transfer ICWA Case to Leech Lake Tribal Court

Here is the unpublished opinion in In re R.L.Z. (Minn. App.). An excerpt:

On appeal from the district court’s denial of a tribe’s motion to transfer this proceeding to terminate parental rights to tribal court, appellant Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (the Band) argues that good cause to deny its motion did not exist because: (a) the Band filed its motion promptly after receiving notice of the proceedings, which were not at an advanced stage at that time; (b) the record before the district court did not indicate that transfer would create undue hardship on the parties or the witnesses; and (c) the district court improperly based its denial of the Band’s motion on the child’s best interests. We reverse.

GTB Chair Derek Bailey on the White House Consultation

From Indianz:

Derek Bailey, the chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, was among dozens of tribal leaders who attended listening sessions at the White House on Monday.

Bailey, who has served on the tribal council since 2004 and as chairman since 2008, said the sessions were just the beginning of an ongoing dialog with the Obama administration. He hailed White House officials for inviting tribes to Washington, D.C.

“Across the table, we saw indigenous faces, those that are from Indian Country, that understand when we speak as leaders from our own upbringing,” Bailey said in an interview yesterday. He called the meeting “inspiring.”

Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux) and Kim Teehee (Cherokee) from the White House, along with Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux) and Del Laverdure (Crow) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, participated in the session that Bailey attended. He said they paid close attention as tribes shared a wide range of concerns.

“Never once did i feel that they were not interested listeners,” Bailey said. “They really were engaged.”

During the session, Bailey talked about regional approaches to providing health care, improving access and use of technology and appointing Native Americans to federal judgeships. He also spoke of the need to have a better understanding of the federal-tribal relationship.

“That is part of the consultative process,” he said. “The more of a cornerstone you have of tribal understanding, the better footed you’ll be.”

Bailey, who met with President Barack Obama in Michigan in July, said he has already noticed a change in atmosphere with the new administration. “From my understanding, there’s a huge turnaround, a very noticeable turnaround, and very much appreciated,” he said of the developing relationship.

During the campaign, Obama promised to hold an annual summit with tribes. The issue was raised yesterday but the White House has not said when the first meeting will occur.

GTB Plans for Winery

From Indianz:

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan might get into the wine business.

The tribe conducted a $104,000 feasibility study to determine whether to start a vineyard and winery. “We’re looking at different economic ventures in the area,” Chairman Derek Bailey told Crain’s Detroit. “I think that we need to, especially during these economic times, to explore new ventures.”

The winery would be located near the Grand Traverse Resort and the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel.

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Grand Traverse tribe considers winery (Crain’s Detroit Business 8/12)

Article on Soo Tribe’s Future Post-Greektown

From the Detroit News:
That’s the simple question, with complicated answers, facing the Sault Tribe of Chippewa as it decides what to do about Greektown Casino-Hotel.

The bankrupt Detroit gambling hall that began as a dream of self-sufficiency has turned into a legal nightmare and financial albatross that’s divided 38,000 tribal members, choked the tribe’s finances and forced its leaders to rethink long-term ambitions aimed at improving the lives of one of the state’s most historically oppressed people.

“It wasn’t supposed to end up like this,” said Bernard Bouschor, a former Sault Tribe chairman who now sits on its board of directors. “Not after we spent so much time and money.”

The predicament in which the tribe finds itself is serious: likely losing Greektown, which by revenue is the smallest of Detroit’s three gambling halls, to creditors or a new buyer in a federal bankruptcy court hundreds of miles from home. It deeply contrasts with the bright promise the casino held for the tribe when the fight for a crack at the downstate market first started two decades ago.

Back then, vying for a piece of Detroit’s gaming market had a simple impetus: a desire for self-sufficiency.

For decades, Chippewa leaders sought recognition by the federal government, and when that hurdle was finally cleared in 1975, the tribe won the right to receive federal and state assistance offered to Native American groups.

Those dollars were spent to upgrade a standard of living that for decades had fallen far behind the acceptable norm.

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TV Coverage of Grand Traverse Band Revenue Sharing Projects

From GTB Chairman Derek Bailey (Bailey Blast July 31 2009):

This past Wednesday, July 29th, the 7&4 News channel did an excellent feature story on the Grand Traverse
Band’s recent 2% allocation. The positive message is a necessary reminder of how through 2% allocations,
citizens of northern Michigan truly benefit from tribal gaming. To view the 7&4 News broadcast, please click
on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_9PEjiKTyk. Especially during these tougher economic
times, the tribes continued financial contributions to schools, organizations, counties equates to communities,
families and individuals being better served and living with more opportunities.
This cycle’s allocation amount was $791, 179.75 and was awarded to 34 applicants (65 applications were
received with a totaled request of $2,642,065.00). Twice a year, 2% gaming revenue allocations are made to
local units of government, resulting from terms of the consent decree which settled Tribes v. Engler (Case no.
1:90-CV-611, U.S. District Court, Western District Michigan).

This past Wednesday, July 29th, the 7&4 News channel did an excellent feature story on the Grand Traverse Band’s recent 2% allocation. The positive message is a necessary reminder of how through 2% allocations, citizens of northern Michigan truly benefit from tribal gaming. To view the 7&4 News broadcast, please click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_9PEjiKTyk. Especially during these tougher economic times, the tribes continued financial contributions to schools, organizations, counties equates to communities, families and individuals being better served and living with more opportunities.

This cycle’s allocation amount was $791, 179.75 and was awarded to 34 applicants (65 applications were received with a totaled request of $2,642,065.00). Twice a year, 2% gaming revenue allocations are made to local units of government, resulting from terms of the consent decree which settled Tribes v. Engler (Case no. 1:90-CV-611, U.S. District Court, Western District Michigan).

Greektown is $755 Million in Debt

From Indianz:

The commercial casino that is majority owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan is more than $755 million in debt.

The Greektown Casino in Detroit entered bankruptcy proceedings last year. So far, all of the exit plans that have been submitted would relieve the tribe of its ownership in the facility.

The latest offer comes from businessman Tom Celani, who said he will bid $450 million for the casino.

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Businessman to bid $450M for Greektown Casino (The Detroit News 7/31)

Larry Leventhal on Treaty Rights

From News from Indian Country:

Back in 1974, Attorney Larry Levanthal, teaching at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, instructed two Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members Fred and Mike Tribble about unresolved treaty rights claims in the ceded territories of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

It was illegal for tribal members to spear fish or hunt deer off the reservation except within narrow State statutes. Tribal members were being cited into state courts for trying to feed their families.

After the class, the Tribble brothers dragged their spear fishing shack off the reservation onto State waters, started fishing, and were arrested by Wisconsin game wardens.

The Tribbles’ showed the wardens the 1837 Treaty between the Chippewa and the United States which guaranteed the tribes’  right to hunt, fish, and gather in the ceded territory. But the wardens were unmoved.  A Sawyer County judge upheld the arrest.

On appeal Federal judge Doyle sided with the State. But the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in 1984  and eventually treaty rights were upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1999 in  Mille Lacs v. Minnesota.

Larry Levanthal discusses the importance of treaty rights for tribal sovereignty and how treaty rights might be used to challenge coal fired, electricity plants and other polluting industries.

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SCIA to Hold Hearing on Burt Lake Band Reaffirmation Bill

From Indianz:

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on July 15 to consider federal recognition bills.

The agenda includes:

H.R.2678 – Duwamish Tribal Recognition Act
H.R.1358 – Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Reaffirmation Act
H.R.2576 – Chinook Nation Restoration Act
H.R.3120 – Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act

Since the start of the 111th Congress, the committee has considered bills to recognize the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and six Virginia tribes. Both bills were passed by the full House.

The committee also held a hearing on a bill to extend the policy of self-determination to Native Hawaiians.

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