Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Sokaogon Chief Judge Fred Ackley, Jr. Walks On

The Honorable Fred Ackley, Jr., Sokaogon Chief Judge and community leader passed on June 21st.

Ackley established the Sokaogon Tribal Court in 1983. He was among an original group of judges appointed following the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that reaffirmed off-reservation Ojibwe treaty rights in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory.

Many knew Ackley as a spiritual and cultural leader as well as a formidable opponent to the proposed Crandon Mine. Ackley played central roles in the Lac Courte Oreilles v Voigt case, Minnesota v Mille Lacs Supreme Court decision, and the creation of the Mikwendaagoziwag Memorial at Sandy Lake, Minnesota.

From 1984 to 1997 (the same year he received the Tribal Leader of the Year Award from Native American Fish & Wildlife Society), Ackley served as vice chairman of GLIFWC’s Voigt Intertribal Task Force. He brought a mix of humility, spirituality, and legal expertise to the Sokaogon Mole Lake courtroom. Among hundreds of rulings, Ackley recounted one occasion when he leveled a fine against his mother for killing a goose out of season.

“I prepare my mind everyday with sweet grass and tobacco. I put on my robe, come into court, and put the Great Spirit on my back and ask for help,” Ackley said in 2006.

He was born on February 19, 1948. Makoons will be missed.

Manoomin: Food That Grows on the Water follows Fred Ackley, Jr. from the Sokaogon Chippewa Community of Mole Lake as he harvests and processes manoomin, or wild rice. He explores the importance of prayer and tradition for cultural survival. Courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television Education.