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U.S. Government files amicus brief in support of Lac du Flambeau motion to dismiss lawsuit over roads

Ross Allen Lake Road is one of four roads currently under negotiations due to rights-of-way issues.
Beth Tornes
Ross Allen Lake Road is one of four roads currently under negotiations due to rights-of-way issues.

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa over road access.

Earlier this month the DOJ filed an amicus brief in support of the tribe’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by dozens of homeowners.

As WXPR has previously reported, there’s an ongoing dispute over tribal road access to privately owned homes within the Lac du Flambeau reservation.

In January, the tribe put up barriers on the roads because right-of-way access expired on them more than 10 years ago and there was still no resolution.

The tribal government says it is owed $20 million dollars as compensation for the easements, attorney fees, and repayment for 10 years of trespassing.

Homeowners affected by the road closures filed a lawsuit in federal court to get the barriers taken down.

The Tribe filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Last month, after the barriers had been up for nearly six weeks, the tribe took the Town of Lac du Flambeau’s offer of roughly $60,000 to take down the barriers for up to 90 days while the involved parties negotiated an agreement.

While those negotiations are ongoing, the lawsuit is still making its way through federal court.

The U.S. DOJ filed an amicus brief last week supporting the tribe’s motion to dismiss.

"We are grateful for the United States' recognition of our rights as a sovereign Tribe and for their support in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin,” Lac du Flambeau Tribal President John D. Johnson, Sr. said in a statement. “We are grateful the United States, who signed the 1854 Treaty acknowledging our Reservation as a permanent homeland, has shown its support by way of amicus brief. This action not only validates our efforts to protect our ancestral lands but also strengthens the relationship between our Tribe and the U.S. government."

The tribe and town are scheduled to meet again this Friday to continue negotiations according to an agenda posted on the town’s website.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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