Fight For Justice

On the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Reservation

May 1997

Read from the bottom up

May 31, 1997

Tribal Police pulled over Rod Edwards, an non-Indian and arrested him near his driveway. Rod had been coming home from his grandson's graduation party. Tribal police were hoping to find Nancy Jondreau-Edwards, his wife. Rod repeatedly told tribal police that they did not have jurisdiction over him that he was white and to call the proper authorities if he committed any crime, tribal police ignored him and handcuffed him and placed him in custody.

Tribal police had his van towed away with threats they were going to strip search it. Tribal police then proceeded to search the garage and surroundings buildings on the property of Rod Edwards. After witness arrived and asked tribal police to produce a search warrant they left the property, after they made threats to the witness. The tribal police then proceed to encircle the property and had the patrol cars shine their spot lights on the home.

After finding Brad Dakota at a party (I wonder how many drinks he had?) they were able to get a warrant to search the house. After searching the house and not finding Nancy Jondreau-Edwards they then searched the out building again even though they were the search warrant said only the house. After more than 2 hours tribal police released Rod from custody.

May 30, 1997

Tribal police chain local high school doors during graduation ceremonies. Tribal police were waiting inside the school expecting to arrest Nancy Jondreau-Edwards if she came to see her grandson graduate from High School.

Nancy Jondreau-Edwards and her husband, Rod returned to Baraga to visit family and friends and to see their eldest grandson graduate from high school. But Nancy did not witness the historic event. KBIC police who were waiting at the high school to arrest her, prevented her from attending.

Nancy who has had a warrant out for her arrest stemming from the take-over of the tribal center building in August 1995. She had asked tribal police officers in 1995 on what grounds was the warrant issued for, but they would not tell her. Nancy tied for the position of chief judge against Brad Dakota in the illegally invalidated election of December 1994.

I wonder what would have happened if a fire had broken out and people had died because of the chained doors?

May 15, 1997

High school student to miss graduation

The trial for Robert Curtis has been postponed until May 29, 1997. The next person on trial is a high school senior, Ronald Edwards-Veres. Ronald is due to graduate from Baraga High School on May 30, 1997, but he may not see his graduation if the tribal court has its way.

Ronald is facing charges stemming from the day last year when the Tribal Police tried to force FFJ members off Church property with tear gas. Police launched tear gas canisters into the crowd of FFJ members who were standing on church property and FFJ threw the canisters off church property. Under the new resolution passed by the tribal council Ronald will not even be allowed to have his attorney present during the trial. What kind of justice can a 18-year-old kid get in this court?

10 May 1997

Excerpts from The Daily Mining Gazette.


A federal court could end up scrutinizing Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Court if a tribal dissident is denied his right to legal defense at his trial next week.

Fight For Justice member Robert Curtis Sr. may be forced to put his fate in the hands of the jury without an attorney. Curtis' pro-bono attorneys, Alan Clarke and Mark Wisti, declined to apply for admission to the court, as required in a Feb. 21 KBIC resolution. Clarke and Wisti told the judge in a March 10 letter, that if he enforces the resolution they will "immediately seek federal habeas corpus for Bob Curtis for the violation of his right to counsel under the Indian Civil Rights Act as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory."...

The KBIC Tribal Council resolution...says only lawyers who apply in writing are eligible to appear in the court. By doing so, the lawyer submits to "the contempt jurisdiction of the tribal court, regardless of whether the court otherwise has jurisdiction," the resolution says.

This provision, as well as others in the resolution, were questioned publicly by some of FFJ's pro-bono attorneys.

The national president of the National Lawyers' Guild commented on the KBIC resolution at Clarke's request.

Guild President Peter Erlinder told Clarke in a May 1 letter: "It is my opinion that this procedure is so fatally flawed that it not only violates the rights of attorneys to due process, but it allows such unfettered discretion on the part of the chief judge that it undermines the integrity of the entire adversary process and the rights of the defendants to zealous representation protected by the Sixth Amendment.

"The practice limitations...are far more limiting that those in place in other tribal court systems," he wrote.

"It appears that attorneys can only be admitted to practice, and can remain members of the tribal bar, at the sole discretion of the chief judge. This feature alone makes the entire plan suspect...There is no independent body that evaluates candidates for admission and the chief judge is under no obligation to admit anyone who will question" his rulings.

Characterizing the qualifications that the tribal court requires of lawyers as "meaningless," he added: "The criteria established for evaluating applicants are sufficiently vague that the criteria provide little direction and fewer limitations, for the chief judge.

"Moreover, because the scheme vests so much unfettered discretion in the chief judge to punish or disbar attorneys, the procedures create a potential for serious conflicts of interest with the chief judge whenever zealous advocates challenge the...court.

"The provision that application for admission includes submission to contempt jurisdiction makes the aforementioned provision particularly attorney could be subjected to an unreviewable contempt citation for violating a subjective standard.

"This would allow the tribal court to impose contempt judgments on disfavored attorneys who would not otherwise be subject to any sanction under state law or state bar rules."

May 02, 1997

In a letter to the Editor from Jerry Lee Curtis, Spokesperson for Fight For Justice

The KBIC tribal council pays its protesters, and has a "professional" spin doctor, Rich Rossway, to spread its distortions, exaggerations and slanders through paid advertisements. One of its meanest slanders concerns a dedicated public official, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judd Spray. As one of its first members and a spokesperson for Fight For Justice I can attest to the fact that Judd Spray has had no personal contact with our group. Our contacts with the federal government have always been through proper channels - we have discussed many matters with the U.S. Marshal's office. We have no contact with Judd Spray. To imply anything more is false and defamatory and the tribal council knows it. When the allegations involve the corruption of a governmental official by organized crime, the U.S. Attorney, not one of his assistants, calls the shots. When the allegations tie casino gambling to the Genovese and Gambino crime families, the boss, not the assistant, takes control. If the Tribal Council wishes to complain about any perceived unfairness in Dakota's prosecution they should direct their complaints to Michael Dettmer the U.S. Attorney, not one of his assistants.

May 2, 1997

In a letter to the Editor rom KBIC member Cynthia Loonsfoot

The Tribal Council at KBIC continues to pay for ads, billboards and protesters to challenge the change of venue for federally indicted Fred Dakota's trial in Grand Rapids. They forget that they are alone responsible for the venue change. Fight For Justice heeded its lawyers and stayed away from the opening of trial. Dakota bused in protesters with "Free Fred" signs. They well knew that the Marquette Federal Courthouse provided inadequate protection for the jury, yet they persisted. Judge Bell, in a closely reasoned and compelling opinion, pointed this fact out. He also demolished Dakota's speedy trial claim - it appears that he gave Dakota the option of a trial within a week. Dakota turned it down. He also pointed out that the federal Marshals had good lines of communication with Fight For Justice thus implying that we, unlike Dakota's faction, had cooperated with federal authorities. Indeed we had cooperated. We, unlike Dakota have remained law-abiding and nonviolent. We will continue our peaceful protest. And Fred can ponder the foolishness of his own actions and those of his lawyer and public relations shill that have forced his trial to be removed to Grand Rapids.

May 2, 1997

In a letter To the Editor from KBIC Member Valerie Voakes

The KBIC Tribal Council has been using paid ads to defame members of Fight For Justice, claiming that we have committed a long string of felonies. Yet they have never offered a shred of evidence to support these claims. Why is it that the federal authorities have only indicted Dakota and not members of FFJ? The reason is simple. Our protest has been peaceful and nonviolent, in the fact of the Dakota factions repeated efforts to turn it violent; we have committed no felonies. Unlike Dakota we have no ties to organized crime and would not know Gambino from Genovese, except from what we read in the papers or see in the movies. If the Tribal Council had any evidence that any of us had committed violent felonies they would have presented the evidence when they had the opportunity.

Dakota's supporters fired forty plus people for alleged misconduct. Several sought unemployment compensation. The Tribe denied compensation on the grounds of these alleged wrongdoings. Several of our people, including those who the tribe claimed had committed crimes, sought hearings. Yet the tribe never produced any evidence; it has no evidence. Our people have been peaceful and nonviolent and Dakota knows it. He also knows that the violence has come exclusively from his own Guardian Angels.

So, Fred, stop blaming us for your problems and your violence. We will not be goaded out of our peaceful protest against your corrupt and failing government. We will resist you for as long as it takes but we will continue to do it the right way, the good way, the way of the people. Goodness will come to our people in the end

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.