Panel Recommends Restoring “Bde Maka Ska” Name, Dropping “Lake Calhoun” In Other News: Climate Change Forces Tribal Relocation; Omaha Tribe Wins in U.S. Supreme Court

The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Lake Calhoun restoration plan overwhelmingly supported restoring the Dakota name “Bde Maka Ska” to Lake Calhoun. The vote was 15-4 with one abstaining Thursday night. The recommendation will be included in a larger report that will be presented to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Restoring the name will be a long process, including stops at Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. But Thursday’s action is an important first step.

CAC members Carly Bad Heart Bull and Tracy Nordstrom led the effort supporting the name restoration. In a media release, they said: Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court Hears “Checkerboarding” Case That Could Expand Tribal Sovereignty

Checkerboarding refers to the federal government practice of breaking up what had been communally owned tribal reservations into individually owned parcels, called allotments. That way, non-Natives could buy land from individual Native Americans and weaken Native control of the reservation.

Leech Lake in northern Minnesota is one of the extreme examples of what can happen under this allotment system. According to Cris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, the Leech Lake Band and individual allotees own a mere 4 percent of the land within their historic reservation boundaries.

Downtown Pender
Downtown Pender (Wikimedia Commons)

A case now before the U.S. Supreme Court — Nebraska v. Parker — is bringing an interesting challenge to this historical effort to diminish Native control over traditional reservation lands. The case started when Omaha Tribal members tried to impose liquor licenses and taxes on alcohol sales in Pender, Nebraska.

According to Wikipedia, Pender had a population of 1,002 in 2010 and supports seven liquor stores. The Omaha Tribe tried to gain revenue in 2006 by imposing taxes on these “nuisance” businesses.

Business owners affected by the proposed tax sued to block them, arguing they were not on the reservation and the tribe had no jurisdiction. The state of Nebraska joined the plaintiffs. The Omaha Tribe argues that while they no longer own land in Pender, it is still within the historic boundaries of its reservation.

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