Updated: 03/12/2014 10:53 PM
Created: 03/12/2014 11:46 AM WDIO.com
The Minnesota Supreme Court says state courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on a dispute over the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's proposal to place additional property in downtown Duluth into federal trust.
The band bought the Carter Hotel building adjacent to the Fond du Luth Casino in 2010 and is seeking federal approval to declare the property as "Indian Country." The City of Duluth filed suit in state court, alleging that a 1986 agreement between the city and the band gives the city a say in deciding whether to create any additional "Indian Country" in Duluth.
In a ruling released Wednesday, the state's high court agreed with the band's assertion that only federal courts have authority to rule in the matter. The city contended that it is allowed to sue the band in state court under the 1986 agreement that created the casino, but the Supreme Court found that a 1994 agreement between the city and the band moved all potential litigation to federal court.
The high court said only federal courts have jurisdiction to rule on the Carter Hotel dispute.
City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said the city hasn't yet decided whether to pursue a federal case. Ultimately, Johnson said the city would like to get an injunction to prevent the property from going into trust before the federal government makes its final decision.
"We want the benefit of the agreement with the band from 1986 which was they have to get our consent before they put additional property into trust," Johnson said.
"The band continues to hope that all of the city litigations will be resolved so that all parties can move forward on a more positive course," said Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver, who was in Washington Wednesday when the state ruling was released.
The city and band have also been engaged in a legal dispute over payments from the casino, which the band stopped making in 2009. In 2011, the National Indian Gaming Commission ruled that the lease calling for payments violated federal law.
Last year, a federal judge ordered the band to pay nearly $10.4 million in rent owed for 2009, 2010, and 2011, but ruled the band would not have to make any further payments under its current agreement with the city, which runs until 2036.
Six Drug Overdoses in Past 24 Hours has Duluth Police Concerned
Duluth Police report there have been six drug related overdoses in the past 24 hours, and while there have been no deaths, they are concerned.
Esko Robotics Rookies Take on Regional Competition
The First Robotics Competition for high school students wrapped up at the DECC Saturday night, but while many veteran teams were taking on the challenge once again, one Northland team built and competed with its first robot ever...
Lake Superior Ice Show Goes Out With a Bang
It was the final weekend for the Lake Superior Ice Project Ice Show, and the community celebrated with a bang Saturday.
Local Families in Need Receive Free, Refurbished Cars
Three deserving families in Duluth got the keys to their very own set of wheels Saturday as recipients of Community Action Duluth's vehicle donation program. The vehicles were donated to the program, then refurbished by local Nappa AutoCare shops...
Minn. Man Charged with 59 Counts of Sexual Assault Arrested in Brazil
A Minnesota man wanted for 59 felony counts of criminal sexual assault from allegations that he abused young women while acting as their pastor was arrested in Brazil Friday.