FOND DU LAC BAND TO SPEND $3 MILLION ON
MORE MODERN LOOK AT CASINO
DULUTH, MN – The Fond du Lac Band of
Lake Superior Chippewa Indians will spend $3 million on upgrades at
its casino in Duluth, Minnesota.
The Fond-du-Luth Casino will get a
more modern look. Work will start this summer and take about four
months, WDIO reported.
The casino has been the subject of
numerous legal battles over a revenue sharing agreement that was
invalidated by the federal government. The tribe paid $75 million to
the city of Duluth before payments stopped in 2009.
In November, the 8th Circuit Court of
Appeals heard arguments over an additional $12 million that is in
dispute. A decision hasn’t been announced.
In addition to the Duluth upgrades,
the tribe is installing a one-megawatt solar panel near the Black
Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
APPEALS COURT RULES FOR TRIBAL FISHING
ST. LOUIS, MO – The federal
government can’t prosecute members of an Ojibwe tribe who
gill-netted fish on a Minnesota reservation and sold their catch
off-reservation, an appeals court ruled on Feb. 10.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled that U.S. District Judge John Tunheim correctly dismissed
charges against four Native men who were indicted in April 2013 for
fish poaching. “We conclude that the historic fishing rights of the
Chippewa Indians bar this prosecution of defendants for taking fish
within the Leech Lake Reservation and selling them,” the appeals
The four arrests came as part of a
federal crackdown on poaching on some of northern Minnesota’s most
“The ruling affirms the traditional
fishing rights that the Chippewa Indians have had for more than 150
years. The ruling upholds what they negotiated in 1837,” attorney
Paul Engh said, referring to a treaty Chippewa Indians signed at Fort
Snelling. Regrettably, he said, defendant Marc Lyons died a month
ago, “before he could see his victory.”
Chris Niskanen, a spokesman for the
state Department of Natural Resources, said the DNR was disappointed
by the decision. “These were very serious violations that involved
the illegal and black market sale of protected game fish,” he said,
adding that they would be encouraging prosecution of the individuals
in tribal court.
Rich Robinson, natural resources
director for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, said the cases are in
tribal court. “We did not think the cases should be in federal
court because we have our own laws here. One of them is that you
cannot sell or barter game fish.”
Tunheim had ruled in November 2013
that the four federal indictments should be overturned because the
177-year-old Indian treaty trumped the legal case brought by the U.S.
attorney’s office. Charges against four others were dropped last
year at the request of federal prosecutors. Two other cases were put
on hold, awaiting the outcome of the 8th Circuit.
Attorney Jan Stuurmans represented one
of the two, Alan Hemme, a restaurant owner accused of aiding and
abetting the Indians by buying fish. Stuurmans said he expected
federal prosecutors will dismiss charges against Hemme “because the
principal claim has been dismissed.”
PRAIRIE ISLAND OPPOSES LIFTING NUCLEAR
ST. PAUL – The owner of Minnesota’s
nuclear power plants has no plans to build a new one, but wants
flexibility to do it if needed.
A state law bans nuclear plant
construction, however, State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, says
it’s time to give Minnesota utilities the ability to consider a new
nuclear plant. She is a sponsor of a bill to overturn Minnesota’s
nuclear power plant moratorium.
Nuclear plants near Red Wing and
Monticello provide a significant amount of Minnesota’s electrical
power. Their licenses to operate end in the early 2030s and if a new
plant were to be considered, planning would need to begin soon.
The Prairie Island Indian Community,
which sits next to the Red Wing-area nuclear plant, sent a statement
to Marty’s committee opposing lifting the moratorium. The Tribal
Council’s statement said the tribe is not opposed to nuclear energy,
but any increase in generating capacity or storage of waste nuclear
materials "is irresponsible without a long-term national
solution for storing spent nuclear fuel."
Nuclear opponents said new plants cost
too much, builders cannot find adequate financing and they offer too
much safety risk. "Nuclear power plants remain an unacceptable
power source," said Bill Grant of the Minnesota Commerce
Since the last Minnesota nuclear power
plant started in 1973 and the last coal plant began producing power
in 1987, the state has added wind, natural gas and biomass power,
Grant said. Now, he said, the state is well positioned to get
electricity from more natural gas plants and Canadian hydroelectric
The issue returned to the Minnesota
Legislature on March 3 for the first time since Japan’s Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant was seriously damaged by a tsunami
created by a major earthquake March 11, 2011. A bill that many
thought would pass the Legislature that year ceased progress with the
A Senate energy committee heard
Kiffmeyer’s bill and one specifically lifting the moratorium on the
Monticello plant, but took no action. Chairman John Marty,
D-Roseville, said he doubted that any bill coming out of his
committee would overturn the moratorium, but he predicted that there
would be attempts to amend an overall energy bill in his committee
and the full Senate to strip the ban.
SHAKOPEE MDEWAKANTON TO PAY FOR ROAD
Construction to reduce congestion and
create a third southbound lane between County Road 21 and County
State Aid Highway 83 in Shakopee is expected to begin in April.
project, which is anticipated to be completed in August, is being led
and funded entirely by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
part of the project, the southbound Highway 169 shoulder will be
reconstructed to add an additional driving lane prior to the County
Highway 83 exit. To minimize disruption, both existing lanes and the
exit ramp will be open to traffic during this project.
complete, this one-mile stretch of road will contain a new driving
lane with a 10-foot shoulder all the way to the County Road 83 exit
ramp. Currently, southbound 169 drops from three lanes to two lanes
one mile before the heavily-used County Road 83 exit. The new road
will carry three lanes all the way to the exit ramp. The additional
lane will make it easier and safer for residents, workers and
visitors to access the region south of the Minnesota River.
$1.5 million project is the latest of the SMSC’s contributions to
local infrastructure in Shakopee and Prior Lake. Since 2010, the SMSC
gave nearly $2.5 million for Scott County infrastructure improvements
and to Scott County-based organizations.