Sokaogon Chippewa Community News
Lac du Flambeau Stands Strong
On Tuesday, Frank Vaisvilas wrote an article for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The article has also been shared in Gannett newspapers throughout Wisconsin. The headline is, “As Lac du Flambeau road closure standoff enters month two, possible legal and legislative action loom. Here’s what to know.”
Here is what Lac du Flambeau wants you to know:
Public Statement from the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Issued February 9 and updated February 25, 2023
How much is the Tribe asking for? Some think it’s $10 million while others think it’s $20 million.
It’s important people understand what the Tribe offered 10 years ago. It’s equally important people understand easements are a common practice granting permission to use another person’s land. What’s uncommon, yet increasingly expected over the last 10 years of negotiating with the Town of Lac du Flambeau and Title Companies, is their refusal to agree to fairly standard easement arrangements, and what appears to be the Town and Title Companies not being straight with the individual property owners. The Town and Title Companies want the Tribe to give them ‘right of way’ access forever. Essentially, they are asking us to give up our land. We have given up millions of acres of land over generations. We now live on a 12-by-12 square mile piece of land known as a Reservation. This is all we have left.
The Tribe originally offered to renew the access road easements (or leases) for 25 years. We have Tribal Members who have property leases that come due every 25 years. We believe if our own Tribal Members can live with 25-year leases, it’s fair to expect others who use Tribal Lands to be treated the same. For years, we’ve worked cooperatively with the WisDOT on easements without ever reaching a point like we have with the Town and these Title Companies. This entire situation could have been avoided if the Town and the Title Companies would have negotiated in good faith and implemented fairly standard easement agreements used by municipal governments.
The Town of Lac du Flambeau and the Title Companies, however, have repeatedly tried to circumvent the negotiations with the Tribe over 10 years. By acting disingenuously and delaying the process of securing 25-year easements, we arrived at this point. Over 10 years, anyone who has dealt with government and lawyers, can just imagine how quickly the costs add up.
The Tribe arrived at $20 million by accounting for all the fees and expenses we’ve incurred trying to secure an agreement to provide access for property owners using Tribal Lands, as well as the cost of illegally using Tribal Lands over 10 years since the easements expired.