Leech Lake Band threatens to derail land settlementby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The Leech Lake Band of Chippewa reaffirmed their legal stance over a disputed land settlement in a warning letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The letter from Leech Lake Chairman Arthur LaRose to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seems to be the latest effort by the band to derail a bill moving through Congress that would award a $28 million settlement for land the federal government sold below value more than 100 years ago.
The bill divides evenly the settlement among the state's six Chippewa bands. But the Leech Lake Band claims they are entitled to 70 percent of the settlement, proportionate to the amount of land the band lost.
Congress held hearings on the proposal earlier this year. Leech Lake lawyer Frank Bibeau said the band will file a lawsuit if Congress passes it as written.
"It's about derailing it if all they're going to do is take our money and give it to other people," Bibeau said.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs received a similar letter from the band earlier this month.