Leech Lake Ojibwe testify to House panel over land disputeby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — On Thursday, a House committee in Washington discussed a bill that would resolve a more than 120-year-old land dispute between Minnesota's Chippewa Tribe and the federal government.
The tribe is made up of six bands, one of which told members of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs the bills in Congress are unfair.
The settlement is over land the federal government sold below value decades ago — a move impacting some bands' reservations more than others.
At the hearing, Arthur LaRose, chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, spoke out against the legislation, saying his band wants to be "fully compensated for damages" by receiving nearly 70 percent of a $28 million settlement.
The Leech Lake Band lost roughly 70 percent of their land, so leaders there want to be compensated for what they lost.
But the bills in Congress — authored and sponsored by several members of Minnesota's congressional delegation — call for an even six-way split of the settlement, after each tribal member receives $300. Under that plan, each band would receive about $3 million.
The Leech Lake Band says it's open to compromise, but has also said it will do what it takes to derail the current bills.
The subcommittee is chaired by Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young from Alaska. He told LaRose, not to "threaten" Congress with a lawsuit. "We write the laws," Young said.
White Earth Band chair Erma Vizenor told the committee Thursday she supports the proposed legislation that would evenly split the settlement.