Hearing Date Set For Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty Case!

On October 2nd it was learned that a hearing date for oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty Case had been set for December 2, 1998. The written portion of the appeal will be completed by the end of October 1998. This means it is possible to have a decision from the High Court by the fishing season opener next Spring, but there will surely be a ruling by the end of June 1999.

Thousands of pages of evidence, in the form of an appendix, and bound legal briefs have been submitted to the Court and all the parties. At a cost of nearly forty dollars a page for type-setting, printing and mailing the dozens of copies necessary for a case to the Supreme Court the associated expenses, not including attorney fees, will be nearly $40,000 for the Landowners and PERM. PERM officials say that fundraising the past few months has exceeded expectations, and they are glad to report that the costs of appealing the 1837 Treaty Case at the U.S. Supreme Court have nearly been met. According to PERM Treasurer Scott Ebner, PERM is still over $200,000 in debt from costs associated with getting to the Supreme Court in the first place, however.

While the Landowner defendants, whom PERM is supporting in this lawsuit, have participated fully in the case up to and including written briefs and evidence for the Supreme Court, it is still unclear whether or not their attorney will be able to make oral arguments on December 2nd. Due to the fact that the Court only ruled on the State of Minnesota's petition to the High Court, (the Landowners' and Counties' petitions are still pending) the State would have to voluntarily give up some of its allotted time to the Landowners for them to make oral arguments. The State of Minnesota has not agreed to do so. In response, the Landowners have made a motion, which is still pending, to be allowed additional time to make oral arguments. We should know soon if the Court will grant the motion to protect the rights of sportsmen and property owners.

A very big boost for the defendants (State of Minnesota, Landowners and Counties) is the several amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs filed which support the position that the 1837 Treaty privilege does not continue to exist. Two other organizations, Citizens Equal Rights Alliance and Pacific Legal Foundation, each submitted a brief. In addition, seven states, California, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming all filed a joint brief supporting Minnesota, the Landowners and the Counties in the case. PERM believes these supporting briefs will help demonstrate to the Supreme Court the wide spread problems associated with reinventing treaty rights that have expired over 100 years ago. As attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department argued several years ago in this case, the final outcome of the Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty Case will affect hundreds of Indian tribes and thousands of individual Indians, not to mention countless states and millions of non-Indian citizens in this Country. The support of several states and other citizen's organizations across the Country affirms this fact, and PERM supporters feel vindicated. Clearly Bud Grant, Howard Hanson, the Landowners, PERM and all their supporters are not "Bud heads" or "wacky walleye worshippers" after all. Most importantly, those who opposed the claims of the Chippewa Tribes in this lawsuit are not "racist," but rather are motivated by deep concerns about our Constitution, property rights and the future of natural resource management in Minnesota and across the nation. Their concerns and positions are now shared and supported by several States' Attorneys General across our Country.

While PERM and the Landowners are not counting their chickens before they are hatched, they say the odds of a victory in this long and difficult struggle have now shifted in their favor. They are hopeful for good news by the end of June 1999.