A recent New York Times article reported on a tribal blockade of roads in Wisconsin, Amid land dispute deadlock, tribe blocks streets. (They are not “streets.”) It gives non-tribal MN residents in the newly expanded ML reservation a real-time example of what private property landowners face if they are located within a reservation. The currently deadlocked dispute involves four backroads used by about 65 homeowners, many only seasonally.

Developers of land for private landowners around lakes within the reservation acquired right of way easements decades ago. The easements expired about 10 years ago. The tribe’s dispute is with the Town of Lac du Flambeau. The town’s territory overlaps with the tribe’s and whose workers have maintained those roads. The dispute includes the two title companies that insure the properties involved.

Tribal leaders say they have tried and failed to negotiate payments for streets crossing their property. They believed the blockades to be “an assertion of sovereignty.” It is also “a statement that they would defend tribal land and demand respect.”

At this time, efforts to reach a settlement are stymied by the $20 million settlement sought by the tribe.

Several marooned landowners said did not dispute tribal ownership of portions of the roads. “But they stressed that their homes are not on tribal property and said they felt like collateral damage in a far bigger fight.”