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 Fight For Justice

On the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Reservation


June 1996

Read from the bottom up


June 27, 1996

Press Release from FFJ

Fred Dakota's indictment for bribery and tax evasion, and the Tribal Council's response raises several concerns:

  1. The Council claims that Dakota's secret fees from an organized crime corporation for selling millions of dollars of gaming equipment at inflated prices were not kickbacks but were somehow "legitimate" consulting fees. If so, we have a few questions:
    • If this secret money ( amounting to over $125,000.) was "legitimate" why did he launder it through his "friend" Doris Haataja's bank account? (Fred later married Doris)
    • If this secret money were "legitimate", why was it secret? Why did he not disclose it to the then Tribal Council? Tribal Attorney, Joseph O'Leary repeatedly told Dakota that he must disclose, so why didn't he? Since they were secret, the current Tribal Council is in no position to declare these transactions "legitimate." They cannot speak for the former Tribal Council. They cannot launder history.
    • If this secret money were "legitimate", why did Dakota not report it to the IRS? Was he afraid of signalling his kickbacks to the IRS?
  2.  
  3. Dakota's corruption, violence and political repression are inextricably linked. Fred Dakota nullified the 1994 election and disenfranchishised 202 voters because he needed desperately to cling to power. Why? Because he needed to be in a position to continue hiding his corruption. If he lost power, he would lose control of the records and he would lose the ability to cover up his dealings. Moreover, he would lose his cash cow - his source of illegal kickbacks.
  4. Dakota's corruption and need to cling to power also explains the violence formented by his hired guns, the Guardian Angels. Dakota never counted on a determined and effective opposition. FFJ became an enemy that had to be eliminated at any cost. He tried intimidation. He fired all FFJ supporters. He threw them out of their homes. He had false criminal charges brought against them. And when all else failed he used violence bring in tear gas and assault rifles, promising: :if it takes a body there will be a body" and "the only thing that is negotiable is the length of the rope." No amount of revisionist history by the Tribal Council can now change Dakota's words and meaning.
  5. The Tribal Council knows that it is wrong in this matter. No matter what the say publicly, they know. If they truly believe in their position would they hesitate to submit the matter to a neutral and disinterested judge or arbiter? Not even Congressman Stupak and Senator Levin could prevail on this council to do the fair and democratic thing. And earlier, it will be recalled, when Judge Thorne began to rule against Dakota's position, the Judge was sent home, his legally binding order ignored! The fact that the Tribal Council refuses to allow FFJ any recourse to a court or arbitrator reveals much - it shows that they know that their position is legally and morally bankrupt.
  6. The corruption at KBIC extends to its court system. The prosecutions of FFJ members while failing to prosecute Fred Dakota constitutes an illegal selective prosecution and is part and parcel of Dakota's political persecution of his enemies. Dakota admitted to taking "consulting fees" from IGM in connection with his sale to the tribe of millions of dollars of gaming equipment. These secret consulting fees are charged as bribes in the Federal indictment. They also constitute bribery under the Tribal Code 3.601.
  7. KBIC's current prosecutor, Gregor MacGregor of the Marquette law firm, Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Keefe, Smith, Girard & Seavoy, PC has had in hand evidence of Fred's wrong doings but has yet to prosecute either. O'Leary has called for a special prosecutor to investigate Dakota's crimes against KBIC. Moreover, the violence perpetrated by Pete Morin must likewise be prosecuted. Does Gregor MacGregor intend to enforce the laws evenly against all or will he continue to single FFJ member out? Or will he continue to pursue Dakota's political persecution of FFJ in the face of these indictments?
  8. The Tribal Council has said that if it ever found that Fred Dakota was not acting in the best interest of the tribe that they would act. We are Waiting.




June 27, 1996

More information on Fred's Indictment

Fred Dakota, Chairman of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community was indicted of federal charges of taking over $125,000.00 in kickbacks from a company that sold the tribe slot machines.

In a indictment handed down Wednesday in Marquette, MI. by the grand jury, KBIC Fred Dakota and co-defendant Jerrold Polinsky of Atlantic City, NJ. were charged with 25 counts each of paying or recieving kickbacks and one count each of conspiracy. In addition Dakota faces three counts of fraud and false statements with his personal income tax returns.

The company that leased the machines to the tribe, International Gaming Management (IGM) of Minn. was indicted in 1994 in Minn., along with other companies Polinsky and family members controlled. Investigators from six federal agencies allege in court documents that the companies were linked to the Genovese and Gambino organized crime families in New York.

The indictment claims Dakota owed his tribe "a duty of loyalty, honesty and integrity" and that he took the secret kickbacks to enrich himself instead.

The scheme worked this way:
Dakota signed a contract in 1991 with IGM tp put slot machines in the tribes casino, Dakota agreed to pay IGM 35 percent of the gross profits from 207 slot machines. IGM then paid five percent to Polinsky through Spectrum Communications, a company Polinsky controlled. Polinsky, using checks drawn on Spectrum accounts, paid Dakota the kickbacks. Dakota then deposited the checks into a friend's bank account to cash them.

Although all Michigan tribes had slot machines and several others leased them through IGM, Dakota agreed to the highest percentage - 35 percent- to be paid to IGM. Other tribes paid IGM only 20 to 25 percent.

The indictment alleges that Polinsky and Dakota conspired to hide the payments Dakota recieved. The checks bore notations such as "FBL consulting fee." Dakota never told the tribe he was receiving money from the company that was leasing it's slot machines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Judd Spray who will prosecute the case said it could come to trial as early as October.

If convicted on all counts, Dakota faces up to 264 years in prison and $6.8 million in fines. Polinsky faces up tp 255 years in prison and $6.5 million in fines. The arraignment is scheduled for July 11, 1996.

Through a tribal official, Dakota has said the 63 page federal indictment is "nothing more than a traffic ticket." "I'll get my day in court," "I don't think I've done anything wrong. Let the federal government prove it."

As of today Fred Dakota is not in jail, he just has to show up for the arraignment in July.


June 26, 1996

FRED DAKOTA WAS INDICTED WITH 29 COUNTS TODAY!!!

The Grand Jury returned 54 count indictment naming Fred Dakota of KBIC and Jerry Polinski of Atlantic City, NJ. an alleged mob family member as sole defendants. the indictments revolve around "conspiracy to violate Sec. 666 of Title 18". Dakota is charged with receiving and Polinski with paying Dakota over $125,000.00 in kickbacks between 1991 and 1993. Dakota is also charged with three counts of income tax evasion.


June 23, 1996
A copy of a letter sent to the local media from FFJ member Valerie Voakes to hopefully be published in the editorial section.

To the person(s) who cut both of my front brake lines on my mini-van.

You almost killed my three children and I Sunday morning on our way to church. Obviously murdering children was your intent since it is known, only my children and I ride in this van. it is only with god's intervention that we were not killed.

Fred Dakota has been quoted as saying "If it takes a body, there will be a body." Is this your way of fulfilling this promise, because I am involved with FFJ?

The State Police of Michigan has collected all the evidence. I hope you are arrested soon, before you succeed in any more attempts to murder innocent children.


June 19, 1996
Excerpts from the REPORT FROM KEWEENAW BAY STAND-OFF
By Debra McNutt and Zoltan Grossman, Midwest Treaty Network

In the first week of June, we were present to witness the crisis at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, an Ojibwe (Chippewa) reservation next to Baraga in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Since August of last year, Ojibwe members of Fight for Justice (FFJ) opposing the tribal government of Chairman Fred Dakota have been occupying the tribal headquarters building. FFJ members also took sanctuary in a Catholic church compound adjacent to the tribal headquarters.

The action took place three days after the tribal council took steps to nullify a tribal election and remove 202 people from the tribal rolls. The tribe had about 2400 members, about half of whom live on the reservation, and the community has been reeling from the disenrollments, the occupation, and resultant threats and violence.

The Michigan and Wisconsin media have focused on the sensational aspects of the dispute-including drive-by shootings, riot police, tear-gas, rock-throwing, and arson in or around the compound-and have largely portrayed the conflict as a purely internal dispute over gaming dollars. Mostly lost in the coverage has been the more complex background of the stand-off, which centers on Ojibwe residents, but also involves white tribal police, white private security guards, white judicial officials, and possibly white organized crime figures. Far from being just another internal dispute over casino profits, the stand-off has the feel of a "Third World" conflict where dissidents confront a government that they say has used authoritarian means to hold onto power.

"Whatever the internal issues are among the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe," said Midwest Treaty Network spokesperson Walter Bresette, a Red Cliff Ojibwe tribal member, "they are best resolved through negotiation, not violence or harassment. We oppose any effort to increase the level of tension." On May 30, the day after riot police launched a tear-gas assault on the FFJ compound, Bresette called for an immediate truce, and met with representatives of the two sides in the dispute.

...In some ways, the Keweenaw Bay crisis resembles a miniature version of current conflicts in Nigeria and Burma, or the uprising ten years ago against the Marcos regime in the Philippines. In all three cases, an election was been held that unseated members of the ruling party, but the government refused to abide by the results and moved against its opponents. In these countries, the government crackdowns included mass arrests and executions. But even there, the government did not withdraw citizenship from any of its opponents.

THE COMPOUND
The FFJ-occupied compound is on a hill which overlooks Keweenaw Bay, just above Highway 41 on the Lake Superior shoreline. As you drive up the hill into the compound, you come to the "Bottom Gate," mostly blocked off with logs and other defensive barriers. On the south side of the hill is the large three-story brick building which served as tribal headquarters. Burned-out vehicles lay in front of the building. On the north side of the hill is the Holy Name Catholic Church, other church buildings, and an old one-room schoolhouse. FFJ members both occupy the tribal headquarters, and have sanctuary in the church buildings. At the top of the hill, along Mission Road, is the "Top Gate," also defended with logs and barbed wire barricades. Halfway up the hill is a huge silver church bell that would be rung to alert the community that an assault is underway or imminent.

The entire open area is no larger than three or four football fields. It is always alive with people-including elders (some on crutches or in wheelchairs), and young children. Nearly all of the people in the compound are FFJ members from Keweenaw Bay. Recently, they have been joined by Ojibwe supporters from other reservations, and Witness for Nonviolence monitors.

THE CONFLICT
Dakota faction Fred Dakota has been in power for about 22 years, taking into account a gap in the 1980s. Even some FFJ members have spoken well of his earlier years in office. Now, however, they see him as virtually a tool of outside gaming interests, including the International Gaming Management (IGM) firm, which has been accused by investigators of ties to organized crime. The key issue in the 1994 election was Dakota's proposal to form a new local gaming corporation allegedly linked to IGM. According to the Detroit Free Press (March 22, 1996) Dakota admitted to taking "consulting fees" from IGM, which the article stated totalled $40,000. A federal grand jury has been looking into the connections between Dakota, IGM, and racketeering practices, and is expected to soon hand down indictments.

Bresette sees the current troubles as "part of a pattern of destabilization" of reservations by outside forces, rather than a purely internal dispute. For Dakota, however, the issue is retaining power at all costs or, as he told the Marquette Mining Journal, "If it takes a body there will be a body," and "The only thing that is negotiable is how long the rope is." Dakota's backers see him as defending tribal sovereignty against outside efforts to take control the reservation economy. Fight for Justice ...FFJ spokesperson Charles Loonsfoot, an elected tribal council member, depicts the dispute as between Dakota and "the traditional people that are here." Some of the disenrolled members trace their ancestry in the area back over 400 years, yet have lost their access to tribal programs such as health care, housing, and education. Other FFJ supporters have been fired from their tribal jobs.

While some media reports imply that their main concern is access to gaming money, FFJ members remain adamant that their main issues are the restoration of democracy and preservation of their Native identity...

Tribal Police
For such a small reservation, many tribal police cars are visible around Keweenaw Bay. At least four tribal police officers sympathetic to FFJ-or who have tried to steer a neutral course in the dispute-have been laid off or transferred. They have been largely replaced with white police officers. The police are at all times dressed in a SWAT-type uniform, which consists of a black shirt, black pants tucked into black combat boots, black baseball-style caps, and black leather gloves.

For a time in late May, Dakota had the assistance of tribal police from Saginaw (Mt. Pleasant) and Lac Vieux Desert reservations. Other reservations have reportedly directed their police to withhold support. According to Associated Press, Dakota temporarily hired a SWAT team from Florida to assault the compound, but the plan fizzled due to disagreements over tactics.

Guardian Angels
More recently, Dakota has hired a private Upper Peninsula security firm called the Guardian Angels, not to be confused with the national organization of the same name. Made up of armed uniformed white men, the Guardian Angels guard Dakota's home, store, and other properties, and other tribal government leaders' homes. Their vehicles have also been seen driving by the compound gates, and FFJ members contend they are tied to incidents of semi-automatic gunfire and one explosion intended to frighten those in the compound. The Guardian Angels have also taken photos of FFJ members and Witnesses for Nonviolence.

Bresette compares the role of the Guardian Angels to that of paramilitary groups in El Salvador, the Philippines, or Northern Ireland. He also points to the example of the Guardians Of the Oglala Nation (GOON) Squad used by Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970's. Dakota replies that the Guardian Angels are needed to prevent incidents of vandalism and arson, and that FFJ leaders are themselves "thugs" and "criminals."

... On June 3, an FFJ leader, Paul Halverson, turned himself in to tribal police to face charges stemming from the occupation. Halverson's June 5 tribal court arraignment was attended by family members, media, witnesses, two white police officers, two Indian officers, a white prosecutor, and a white judge. Halverson is a pipe carrier and has been a respected counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment center for the past five years. He explained that he had turned himself in so others in the compound would not be hurt on his behalf, and so he could be with his family. Judge Douglas Gurski asked for Halverson's opinions about the occupation and prospects for violence, and then slapped him with an $8,000 bond for two misdemeanors.

Also on June 3, violence flared again after police allegedly beat an FFJ supporter in town. Shortly afterward, a squad car came under a hail of rocks near the Top Gate. FFJ is prepared for another assault as Dakota grows more isolated...

PROSPECTS FOR RESOLUTION
Federal response
The federal response to the situation has been mixed. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of the Department of the Interior has maintained a hands-off attitude, telling Dakota it is his responsibility to maintain law enforcement, but not sending him reinforcements. In a letter dated January 27, 1995, Sault Ste. Marie Superintendent Anne Bolton had told Dakota that the Interior-approved tribal constitution had "no provisions for disenrollment due to error or fraudulent act nor are there any procedures to appeal denial of membership of disenrollment." A Utah tribal judge (brought in as a neutral third party) ruled against the disenrollments, but Dakota refused to implement the decision and was not contradicted by the BIA.

The Department of Justice has sent a rotating team of observers to Keweenaw Bay. One Justice office from Chicago, John Terrones, was among the crowd tear-gassed on May 29. (Ironically, the police had put away their rifles after spotting outside observers). Dakota has spoken with the officials, but they have been met with open hostility by some of his supporters in his office...

Witness for Nonviolence response
Witnesses are outside people invited to come into a conflict to monitor and document violence or harassment, to try to deter violence with their physical presence, and to work for a peaceful resolution. Different witness projects have been present at a number of conflicts involving indigenous peoples, including the Big Mountain dispute in Arizona, the escort of refugees to their homes in Central America, the Mohawk stand-off in Quebec, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, and the Ojibwe spear fishing clashes in Wisconsin.

...Vern Simula of Houghton, who had witnessed at northern Wisconsin boat landings, and Stella Larkin of Marquette, who had witnessed in Guatemala. Larkin said, "While the situation isn't nearly as bad as in Central America, I could still recognize the intimidation tactics, the weapons coming from outside, the attempts to prevent voting, and the fear felt by community members that kept them from speaking out. I could also recognize local people's determination for a just solution, the sanctuary by the Church, and the wish of everyone to live in peace."...

Tribal response
Perhaps the most credible responses have come from other tribal governments in the region. A number of tribal leaders have stated that they are not taking sides, but support a peaceful end to the conflict. The Lac du Flambeau tribal council additionally voted to send $500 in humanitarian aid. A number of tribal leaders are realizing that whatever happens at Keweenaw Bay will affect them. A peaceful end would demonstrate that even the most intense disputes can be solved within tribal circles. A violent end would turn state and federal officials even more against gaming and sovereignty.

CONCLUSION
It is easy for outside observers - particularly non-Indians - to dismiss the Keweenaw Bay dispute as the inevitable result of new gaming wealth in Indian Country. But it is important to remember that dozens of tribes have gaming establishments without serious internal fights, and have used the profits mainly for programs to benefit the tribe as a whole. For many tribes, closing the casinos to eliminate gaming corruption is like closing the banks to stop bank robberies. It should be the decision of the tribal members - not state governments - whether or not to have gaming.

It is also easy for some non-Indians to use internal disputes as an excuse to reduce or eliminate tribal sovereignty. The colonial cliche "they're not ready to govern themselves" was historically used against Africans and Asians. But the United States also has a history of internal conflict and civil war, without anyone advocating that it be given back to England. And does the civil war in Bosnia mean that white people are incapable of responsible self-government?...

...As Loonsfoot summed up the situation, "This is big time stuff in a little bitty town."


June 19, 1996
From Fight For Justice

1st Annual Tradional Assinins Pow-Wow July 26, 27, 28, 1996
Holy Name of Jesus Church
The William 'Boyzie' Jondreau Ball field, Baraga, Michigan 2 1/2 miles north of M-38 in Baraga on US-41 (New Pow-wow grounds)
Security will be provided
Camping available
For more info call (906) 353-6836, 353-7099 fax (906) 353-6800


June 18, 1996
The following excerpts were taken from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council has canceled what would have been the tribe's 18th annual pow-wow originally scheduled for July 26-28 at the reservation.


June 4-11, 1996
Excerpts from Indian Country Today

Keweenaw Bay Reservation, Mich. This small reservation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is beginning to look like Ruby Ridge, Waco or Jordan, Mont.

Tribal Police threw tear gas into a compound secured by angry tribal members calling themselves Fight For Justice, who threw the canisters back and used rocks and bottles against the police.

...Mr Dakota said "We have had three elections, I don't know what there is. I don't know anymore. There is going to be banishment of a whole lot of people....

... Further and immediate escalation of violence is expected after Mr Dakota said he " does not want an anniversary" of the takeover...

" It becomes evident there is a time that we have to restore order on this reservation. The time has come now to restore law and order by whatever means possible, " Mr Dakota said. "I will use all resources that I can muster - excluding none. Read that any way you want. This is going to be over soon, whatever it takes."


June 19, 1996
Press Release from Fight For Justice

A video tape recorded by the KBIC Tribal Police was recently released to FFJ. It shows the complicity of the KBIC Tribal Council in violent activities allegedly undertaken by the Guardian Angels, a security company owned and managed by Pete Morin, and hired by the tribal council. An audio tape was also made of the same individual. The following are some excerpts from the tapes.

"I was approached by Pete Morin and he told me if I shot up the tribal center, it was a hundred dollars per bullet and a five hundred dollar bonus if a bullet hit somebody - man, women, child. He didn't care... He said to make it like a drive-by, you know in the car, out the window..."

" The next incident... was when they took m80's up there to get FFJ riled up, so they'd come off the hill and start trouble with us because everything was going too slow. They were afraid that if things died down people were gonna get laid off and everybody was going to lose their jobs... So they were sent up to the hill with m80's to drive by and throw them m80's out on the road and tie an m80 on a stick like it was a gun and point it up towards the hill and fire, let it off sounding like a gun..."

"(In another incident) he (Pete Morin) was putting his gun out the window, pointing it all the kids who were ... coming off the hill" What was Pete saying? "I'm gonna shoot you... I'll kill all you mother-fuckers... that's what he said."

Were there any other incidents during your employment with Pete Morin?

"Yeah, one night... he came up to me... and asked me "How'd you like to make ten thousand dollars?" I said "Yeah, who wouldn't?"... He said "I need someone, if you can find someone... somebody who will shoot into Fred Dakota's car and hit anybody or the car. Except Fred Dakota cannot be hit, cause he's the one who signs our paychecks... There's ten thousand dollars up front and after the job's done there's a guaranteed twenty-five thousand each year that's fifty thousand within two years..."

Do You have any idea who threw the bomb into (tribal attorney) O'Leary's lawn?

"That was Pete." Pete (Morin) did that? "Yeah, Pete did that." Why? "To get him riled up... and blame it on FFJ."

FFJ has known from the beginning that most, if not all, the acts of violence have come from the Guardian Angels hired by Fred Dakota and his council. This has come about with Dakota's knowledge and complicity. For example, one of FFJ's lawyers was told by several tribal police last fall that bomb threats made to Dakota residence were traced to the Guardian Angels. When the police told Dakota about it he responded that they were to forget it. Moreover, a Molotov cocktail thrown on the tribal attorney's lawn was also traced to the Guardian Angels, yet FFJ was blamed for it. It is entirely consistent with Dakota's strategy to have violence occur and then blame it on FFJ. Recently, in response to calls for peacefully negotiations, Fred Dakota has said that "if it takes a body, there will be a body" and "the only thing negotiable is the length of the rope". Dakota and his council are complicit in and responsible for the violence occurring at the KBIC. We call upon all thoughtful persons to condemn the violence and urge peaceful negotiations.


June 10, 1996

Council members Pauline Knapp-Spruce, Terri Denomie and William Emery told a FFJ member that they were never told about the proposal from Congressman Bart Stupak & Senator Carl Levin. One wonders what Fred is doing.


Reported in the Houghton Mining Gazette

Tribal Council votes no on the proposal of Stupak and Levin.


From a FFJ Press Release
Dated June, 7, 1996

Fight For Justice has accepted the proposal of Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Bart Stupak to submit the controversy in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to binding arbitration.

FFJ believes that a neutral and legally binding forum is necessary to resolve issues between them and the Dakota faction since the KBIC Tribal Court is controlled by Fred Dakota.

Although it has not been officially confirmed, FFJ is disappointed to hear that Fred Dakota has indicated displeasure with Stupak/Levin proposal. FFJ is confident that an objective fact-finer will agree that their members were illegally disenfranchised.

FFJ looks forward to finally having a forum for deciding this and related issues.

We urge the utmost urgency in moving forward with this proposal, as we FFJ are on the fullest alert on a 24-hour basis, based on intelligence reports that Dakota has increased the level of his man power and fire power and the possibility of an armed attack is imminent.


Excerpts from a Letter Dated June 6, 1996

From: Bishop James H. Garland - Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Bishop Dale R. Skogman - Northern Great Lakes Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Thomas K. Ray - Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, Rev. David Van Dam - Presbyterian Church USA, Rev. Ken Ward - Marquette District, Detroit Conference United Methodist Church

Sent to: Fred Dakota, Wayne Swartz, Amy St. Arnold, Isadore Misegan, Gary Loonsfoot, Terri Denomie, Ann Durant, William Emery, Rosemary Haataja, Mike LaFernier, Pauline Knapp-Spruce, Richard Shelafoe, Donald Chosa, Dale Dakota, Michael Hazen, Charles Loonsfoot, William Seppanen

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

...We respect the sovereignty of your people, so hard fought for and protected by treaties over recent years. At the same time we write to you with deep concern and care for the divisions which have broken and fragmented your community these recent months....

We urge you to reopen negotiations and refrain from violence. The way of Jesus is one of gentleness and peace.

We are ready to offer our assistance to find a peaceful solution. As neighbors, and on behalf of our churches, we off to you an ecumenical mediation team to assist in resolving this controversy in a non-violent fashion. We invite all tribal members to draw from deepest of your own spiritual traditions. We trust there is a path of integrity and blessings that carry you through to the resolution of this conflict.


Excerpts from a letter Dated June 5, 1996
From U.S. Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Bart Stupak
To: Chuck Loonsfoot, FFJ

Dear Mr. Loonsfoot:
In a further effort to avoid violence at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, we are hereby recommending a three judge arbitration panel to decide the outstanding disputes between the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the group Fight for Justice. We believe this to be both a fair and expeditious way to finally arrive at a peaceful solution to this situation.

We propose that the Tribal Council and FFJ each nominate one Indian Judge to serve on a panel. These two judges would then together choose a third judge...

In our opinion, both FFJ and the Tribal Council would receive a fair hearing from this panel. The third tie-breaking judge specifically would have no agenda other than to seek an unprejudiced solution to all outstanding disagreements...

If all parties agree to our proposal, we believe this long standoff can finally cone to an end Despite the devotion of both FFJ and the Tribal Council, we know that nobody wants to see bloodshed. In order to make this hope a reality, we ask both sides to agree to this binding arbitration proposal. We would appreciate a response by June 13, 1996.


Excerpts from the Associated Press article, By John Flesher

Indians fighting Indians. To Helene Welsh, the thought is horrifying. An 89-year old member of the KBIC Welsh remembers previous generations struggling together for survival. Back then the enemies were external: poverty, racism, federal policies that to Indians seemed designed to eradicate native culture...

"I can't image the older people doing anything like this," Welsh said watching as dissidents occupying the tribal headquarters prepared for an expected assault by Chairman Fred Dakota and his loyalist.

"You think of all the years we were discriminated against. Now we're discriminating against our own people."...

Critics say Dakota rules the 12-member tribal council with an iron fist. Dakota laughs at the idea... "I don't think I hold a gun to anyone's head vote for me," he said.

There all kinds of people in this tribe who support us but they're afraid to speak up," said FFJ member Karen Curtis. "They'll lose their jobs, they'll lose their homes."

Dakota, she said is "a modern-day Hitler."

Nonsense, said Tim Shanahan, the tribe's realty officer. He said Dakota has been a savior for the tribe.

"They ought to genuflect every time they see him," said Shanahan.

... Dakota hired a SWAT team from Florida in April to drive the occupiers from the compound, but the plan fizzled in a disagreement over tactics. Tribal police threw tear gas at the protesters last week but were repelled by a volley of rocks.

FFJ says it will be ready. The tribal center grounds, littered with burned-out cars from previous clashes, resemble a fortress. Entrances are blocked by felled trees and barbed wire. Sentries patrol the area on off-road vehicles...


June 2, 1996
Excerpts from a Press Release by Fight for Justice:

Genocidal Violence Threatens Indian Lives

The situation has now escalated to an extremely dangerous and life-threatening level because of threats of violence and bloodshed made by tribal chairman Fred Dakota. His own statements to the Marquette Mining Gazette are ---"If it takes a body there will be a body" and "The only thing that is negotiable is how long the rope is." ...

...The tribal people at the takeover site have issued a national distress call seeking protection from Native Americans and concerned Non-Native Americans to assist in stemming the violent activities being perpetrated by this crazed chairman and his supporters.

The chairman has labeled the people at the takeover site as being thugs and criminals. The people at the takeover site emphasize that currently the only official investigation being conducted is a secret Grand Jury Investigation concerning alleged fraudulent activities by Fred Dakota. Additionally the only violent activity to date has been perpetrated by Fred Dakota and his henchmen.

The group has maintained a non-violent position and will continue this non-violent position, taking only defensive actions to protect the Elders and children involved in this legitimate protest.


June 1, 1996
In a press release by Fight For Justice:

The Fight for Justice Anishinabe of Keweenaw Bay have today asked for last rites and traditional ceremonies for 24 young warriors who have committed themselves and their spirit to the Creator in defense of their Elders and children in the face of certain death now being planned at the hands of Tribal Chairman Fred Dakota.

These individuals represent the truest spirit of the Anishinabe world and their family and friends now pay them the highest respect and honor possible.


June 1, 1996
The following excerpts were taken from the Marquette's The Mining Journal
by John Flesher, Associated Press Writer

Tribal Skirmish
Dakota: Next assault may be days away


Fred Dakota said Friday he stills intends to forcibly dislodge a group of dissidents occupying the KBIC headquarters. But acknowledged it might take days to assemble enough people to retake the compound. "I'm not going back up there until we've got enough people," He reiterated his refusal to negotiate with the dissident group, which calls itself Fight For Justice. "The only thing that's negotiable is how long the rope is," Dakota said in an interview, "There's nothing to negotiate with thugs and criminals."

To read a brief summary of FFJ and it's begining read Tina Lam's Detorit Free Press article

Copyright 2001 by Rose Edwards. All Rights Reserved.