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:
- 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
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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?
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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...
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.
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"
... 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
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."...
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.
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
...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
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
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
... 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
"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
"That was Pete." Pete (Morin) did that?
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
FFJ looks forward to finally having a forum for deciding this and related
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
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
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
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."