The Mille Lacs County Board on June 21 revoked the last Cooperative Agreement it entered into with the Mille Lacs Band in 2008.
For 25 years an agreement between the County and the Band allowed for joint law enforcement without having to address disputed boundaries.
Now the Mille Lacs Band’s revival of the dispute over the existence of a 61,000-acre reservation “made it clear that tribal government prioritized tribal law over and above Minnesota law and its cooperative relationship with Mille Lacs County.” The County was left with revocation as the only way it could “uphold the integrity of state law.”
The Tribal Police Department will continue to exist, but will no longer have the powers of a state law enforcement agency in the disputed territory unless a new cooperative agreement is reached.
The County believes the reservation was disestablished and replaced with trust land. The band believes the reservation still exists and covers the entire 61,000 acres. Disputed land includes cities of Isle and Wahkon; Kathio State Park; Father Hennepin State Park; the Bayview community; and the entire southern shoreline of Lake Mille Lacs. Many citizens with no affiliation to the Mille Lacs Band own property and live within this area.
If the old reservation could be shown to still exist, the Mille Lacs Band would likely assert jurisdiction over all of the reservation, including non-Band members. Instead, Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren believes County residents “are entitled to the protections of Minnesota law.”
“While it is a rejection of the Band’s unwillingness to follow state law, it is not a rejection of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,” according to Pat Oman, County Administrator. “The county will continue to work with the Band toward establishing a true partnership in law enforcement.”
Sheriff Lindgren also stands “ready to put together a new cooperative agreement that respects that compromise” of the one just revoked.