The Band and Mille Lacs County engaged in mediation efforts in December while both sides also prepared for a legal battle over law enforcement and the status of the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation.
The two sides met with retired federal Magistrate Arthur Boylan, but neither side has announced an agreement that would allow Tribal Police officers to enforce state criminal law in cooperation with the County.
“We signed a confidentiality agreement on mediation which we will continue to honor,” said Tadd Johnson, Senior Advisor on Government Affairs. “All I can say at this time is the mediation will continue.”
The County rescinded the existing law enforcement agreement in June of 2016, and prior mediation efforts aimed at reaching a new agreement were unsuccessful.
On December 21, the County responded to a lawsuit filed by the Band in November with a counterclaim against Police Chief Sara Rice, Sergeant Derrick Naumann, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu, and District Representatives Sandra Blake, David ‘Niib’ Aubid, and Harry Davis.
In the counterclaim, the County repeatedly states that the 1855 Reservation has been disestablished and denies that the Band’s inherent sovereign authority and federal Special Law Enforcement Commissions (SLECs) give its officers the right to exercise state law enforcement powers throughout the reservation.
The counterclaim includes an extensive legal and historical argument claiming that the 1855 Reservation was disestablished. The argument directly contradicts the longstanding federal position that the reservation is still intact, an opinion reiterated in 2016 in an M-Opinion, M-37032, by Department of Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins.