Eighth Circuit Holds Lacey Act Does Not Bar Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Members from Fishing on Leech Lake Reservation

Here is the opinion in United States v. Brown.

An excerpt:

Appellees Michael Brown, Jerry Reyes, Marc Lyons, and Frederick Tibbetts were indicted under the Lacey Act which makes it unlawful to “sell . . . any fish . . . taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of . . . any Indian tribal law.” 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(1). The indictments alleged that appellees had netted fish for commercial purposes within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation in violation of the Leech Lake Conservation Code, then sold the fish. Appellees are Chippewa Indians, and they moved to dismiss the indictments on the ground that their prosecution violates fishing rights reserved under the 1837 Treaty between the United States and the Chippewa. The district court granted the motions to dismiss. The 1 United States appeals, arguing that its application of the Lacey Act did not infringe on appellees’ fishing rights. We affirm.

Briefs:

US Opening Brief

Appellees Brief

US Reply Brief

Lower court materials here

Ojibwe Language Preservation Documentary Available Online

Available from Twin Cities Public Television here.  The entire show is available and about an hour long.

h/t E.P.

Here’s the description:

About First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language

As recent as World War II, the Ojibwe language (referred to as ojibwemowin in Ojibwe) was the language of everyday life for the Anishinaabe and historically the language of the Great Lakes fur trade.  Now this indigenous language from where place names like Biwabik, Sheboygan and Nemadji State Forest received their names is endangered.

The loss of land and political autonomy, combined with the damaging effects of U.S. government policies aimed at assimilating Native Americans through government run boarding schools, have led to the steep decline in the use of the language.  Anton Treuer, historian, author and professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and featured in First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language, estimates there are fewer than one thousand fluent Ojibwe speakers left in the United States, mostly older and concentrated in small pockets in northern Minnesota with fewer than one hundred speakers in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota combined.

Treuer is a part of a new generation of Ojibwe scholars and educators who are now racing against time to save the language and the well-being of their communities.  Narrated by acclaimed Ojibwe writer, Louise Erdrich, First Speakers tells their contemporary and inspirational story.  Working with the remaining fluent Ojibwe speaking elders, the hope is to pass the language on to the next generation.  As told through Ojibwe elders, scholars, writers, historians and teachers, this tpt original production reveals some of the current strategies and challenges that are involved in trying to carry forward the language.

First Speakers takes viewers inside two Ojibwe immersion schools: Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion School on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bena, Minnesota and the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin. In both programs, students are taught their academic content from music to math entirely in the Ojibwe language and within the values and traditional practices of the Ojibwe culture. Unique to the schools is the collaboration between fluent speaking elders and the teachers who have learned Ojibwe as their second language.

First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language provides a window into their innovative and intergenerational learning experience and the language they are determined to save.

Minnesota American Indian Bar Association 2010 Annual CLE — June 17-18 @ Leech Lake

Brochure here (updated): MAIBA Brochure(4)

Keynotes:

Hon. Korey Wahwassuck, Associate Judge of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Court

Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Associate Professor of Law & Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center, Michigan State University College of Law

Other speakers include:

Colette Routel, Assistant Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

Chris Strandlie, Assistant Cass County Attorney

Frank Bibeau, Legal Director, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

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Indian Treaty Rights Showdown in Minnesota Possible

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

LEECH LAKE RESERVATION — The stage is set for an off-reservation treaty rights battle to begin Friday in Bemidji that ultimately could engulf much of northern Minnesota. Some Leech Lake Chippewa band members say they’ll set nets in Lake Bemidji the day before Minnesota’s walleye and northern pike seasons begin.

The Indians are gambling they’ll be busted for violating state angling rules, sparking a legal battle not only over northern Minnesota fish but also its wildlife and perhaps its timber, minerals and other resources.

Citing a treaty more than 150 years old, the Chippewa say most state fish and wildlife rules don’t apply to them across a large section of northern Minnesota — generally north of Interstate 94 — that they ceded to the federal government in 1855.

The stakes are high for everyone. The Leech Lake Chippewa, and those of the White Earth band about an hour away, risk backlashes that could cut into their casino profits and fracture relations with nonband members that in some instances are already tenuous.

And while the state has signaled it will hold fast to its contention that the bands have no off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering rights, its costly defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court to the Mille Lacs and other Chippewa bands over similar treaty claims in 1999 hasn’t been forgotten.

“We need to exercise our rights or our sovereignty is just a thought,” said Renée Jones-Judkins, 52, of Cass Lake, who with her four sons will net Lake Bemidji on Friday. She was one of about 125 Leech Lake members (out of a tribal enrollment of 9,400) who attended a tribal treaty rights meeting Friday at the band’s Palace Casino in Cass Lake.

The White Earth and Leech Lake tribal councils aren’t sanctioning the protests. Instead, they will sponsor a public forum on Friday in Bemidji to inform nonband members about rights the Chippewa say they hold.

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Minnesota Court of Appeals Affirms State Criminal Jurisdiction over Tribal Members

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of a tribal member (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Fond du Lac Band, Leech Lake resident) for firearms violations, holding that the court had jurisdiction under PL 280 in State v. Roy (opinion). Here is the court’s syllabus:

Under Public Law 280, Minnesota has jurisdiction to prosecute a tribal member for a violation of the felon-in-possession statute, Minn.Stat. § 609.165 (2004), because: (a) the inability to possess a firearm under Minn.Stat. § 609.165 is the result of the individual’s criminal conduct; (b) the prosecution does not affect the tribe’s treaty hunting rights; and (c) Minn.Stat. § 609.165 is criminal/prohibitory.