Read from the bottom up
May 30, 1996
The following excerpts were taken from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette
Battle not Over
All quite at tribal center overnight, but threat of violence continues.
Tribal Chairman Fred Dakota says violence between tribal police and the dissident
group Fight For Justice is inevitable. "If it takes a body than that's
what it takes"
Dakota told Associated Press this morning he would accept military help from
May 30, 1996
The following excerpts were taken from the Detroit Free Press
Violence escalates in tribal standoff
Police can't retake seized headquarters
Tribal police, aided by officers from nearby Lac Vieux Desert tribal reservation
retreated from the headquarters ... after a 30-minute standoff.
Tribal Chairman Fred Dakota said he was asking for reinforcements from other
tribes. "We're going to get help from wherever we can," he said
"This thing is going to be finished." In a radio interview, he said
he would use whatever means necessary to take back the headquarters and tribal
records the group seized in the building. Tribal police went to serve warrants
on the dissidents" he said.
May 30, 1996
Early Wednesday morning, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Police along
with other outside tribal police agencies tried to execute a deadly raid on
the tribal center grounds with the use of tear gas and assault rifles. Police
arrived at the entrances of the tribal center in full riot gear and proceeded
to give FFJ a three minute warning to evacuate the compounds which includes
the Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church property which adjoins the tribal
The Catholic Church has provided sanctuary throughout the takeover. After
the three minute warning was given, tear gas was thrown into the crowd. After
members of the press attempted to photograph tribal police wielding assault
rifles, the police retreated to their patrol cars.
In addition to FFJ members and members of the media, John Terronez, a mediator
from the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Department was present.
Terronez, along with the reporter for Channel 6 were also gassed. This past
week Dakota fired a number of the tribal police who have relatives on the
grounds. They are being replaced with non-native police and tribal police
from other reservations.
The tribal center is located just off US-41. The tribal center has been occupied
since last August 1995 by a traditional native council along with an Elders'
council called "Fight For Justice." This traditional native council
along with an Elders' council called "Fight For Justice." This traditional
council was formed in January 1995 after the non-traditional governing body
decided to void a valid election by an illegal membership purge, stripping
tribal members of many of their civil rights in order to maintain their power
and positions in the tribe.
Mr. Terronez has been quoted as saying "FFJ has always been open to mediation."
KBIC Tribal Chairman Fred Dakota has been unwilling to negotiate a peaceful
settlement to the situation. According to a "Marquette Mining Journal"'
reporter, Fred claims "Violence is inevitable... If it takes a body there
will be a body."
As we write this, from the grounds of the occupied Tribal Center, the police
are massing for another attack on us. All supporters in the native and non-native
community are welcome and urged to come. Having a large number of people and
press here may be the only way to avoid extensive bloodshed. "The Detroit
Free Press", the AP and a number of members of the local media have been,
are, or shortly will be on site. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is located
just to the west of Baraga, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
May 23, 1996,
In a letter from:
Michael Hayes Dettmer, United States Attorney, Western District of Michigan
To: Fred Dakota, Tribal Chairman; Don Chosa, Chief of Police KBIC
The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan reiterates
that the ongoing controversy at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is an inter
tribal dispute that must be resolved by the tribe. Respecting the sovereignty
of the tribe, this office continues to offer any assistance it can to resolve
this dispute in a nonviolent fashion.
I also want to clarify and dispel any possible misinformation or misunderstanding
regarding the position of the United States Attorney regarding any violation
of federal law in this case. In a recent letter issued by the Keweenaw Tribal
Council, reference was made to this office and the possible actions that might
be taken by this office if violence occurs at the tribal center. I reiterate
the position of this office, a position that has been clearly stated to all
parties throughout this on going dispute: the United States Attorney's Office
will fully investigate any allegations of the unlawful use of force by anyone
involved in this political dispute and will initiate appropriate criminal
actions where warranted.
The United States Attorney's position has always been, and continues to be,
that this is clearly an inter tribal dispute that must be resolved within
the tribe, by the tribal government and its membership. I understand the necessity
of a tribe maintaining law and order within its boundaries, especially in
the area of civil disobedience. However, I also realize that, when confronted
with situations like the on going dispute at Keweenaw Bay, where in many instances
family members and relatives may very well be pitted against one another in
a potentially violent confrontation, that seeking a nonviolent and negotiated
means of resolution of the issues is the democratic solution. Thus, I continue
to encourage both sides to find a peaceful resolution to this controversy,
and I will do everything in my power to provide assistance to you in resolving
this matter with nonviolent solution.
Michael H. Dettmer
Charles Loonsfoot, FFJ;
Tribal Chairman and Tribal Chiefs of Police in Michigan.
May 23, 1996
The following excerpts were taken from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette
Story by Paula Pintah
KBIC is laying off police officers and Fred Dakota is sign the dismissal papers
instead of Police Captain Don Chosa.... at last count, three officers were
laid off and another transferred to the Marquette area...
A officer who was dismissed requested anonymity received this letter "Please
be advised that until the crisis situation at the Center is resolved, it will
necessary to place you on temporary layoff. If and when the situation has
been resolved, your position on the Keweenaw Bay Police will be reevaluate.
Your last day of employment will be May 24, 1996....
The latest conflict was set off when FFJ sent out a press release saying it
would release medical and dental records to those who request them through
the direction of former tribal physician Dr. G. Harrison as a gesture of good
The Tribal Council mailed a letter dated May 20, 1996 to tribal members saying,
"No 'good faith gesture begins with a press release.
Now FFJ has written another letter in response to the council, the two and
half page document is broken down into sections listing what FFJ sees as illegal
actions by Dakota...
Dakota is being investigated by a Federal Grand Jury through the exact nature
of the investigation is still unknown... Under the letter's heading "Tribal
Attorney Joseph O'Leary calls for a criminal investigation of Fred Dakota"
FFJ reveals information from a memo O'Leary sent to the tribal council in
which he stated "Fred Dakota's alleged wrong doings should also be specifically
investigated to determine whether charges can and should be brought against
May 18, 1996
In a letter addressed to the Tribal Police from the Tribal Council dated May
(Written word for word.)
Some time go we had written you and reminded you of your legal responsibilities
for which each and every one of you receive money from us, every two weeks.
It is obvious to us from your required reports, that you are not taking these
duties very seriously.
There are a group of people, which has stolen every record which this tribe
has accumulated for the past 100 years. They are on the grounds of our former
office building. Every day we receive reports that no one involved in this
theft has been located. Everyone in the community knows where there are, except
you. It is very clear to us, that we are being ignored.
You have been flying under the cover of the Tribal Council in regards to your
governmental immunity. Neglect waives any immunity that you may claim. There
have been a number of people that want to hold us responsible for the misery
that they have suffered and for personal belongings which they have lost.
We will take that responsibility, but we will not fund any type of defense
for you. In fact, there have been Tribal members who have requested that we
take a civil action against you, to recover damages, for payment that you
have received and not provided the services that you accepted the money for.
We have decided that we will personally return to the Tribal Center to recover
our belongings along with volunteers who have supported us through this ordeal.
Should this happen, your position will be terminated. We have reminded you
of the Tribal Code infractions which you may have committed in our prior memorandum.
If we have to retrieve our property ourselves, and something drastic should
happen, the US Attorney's office may view it as Involuntary Manslaughter because
of your nine months of neglect.
We have been guaranteed that a number of civil suits are going to arise from
the takeover. It is unclear to us why you would put your own personal property,
and face criminal prosecution, for criminals, who have done nothing positive
for anybody. By your daily reports, it's clear you have made your decision,
and by way of this letter, we have made ours.
Frederick Dakota, Chairman
Wayne Swartz, Vice Chair
Ann Durant, Secretary
William Emery, Ass't Sec.
Amy St Arnold, Treasurer
(Gary Loonsfoot, Sr. did not sign this letter)
May 5, 1996
It have been decided that FFJ will boycott this years KBIC's powwow, July
26-28, and we wish all people reading this to also boycott this joke of a
powwow in solidarity against a bogus tribal council.