A Message from the Tribal Council -
Beginning in the early 1970s, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians began efforts to regain ownership of our lands and roads under the William Wildcat administration. Our efforts were recently revitalized after the Tribe conducted research of relevant documents from the Town of Lac du Flambeau, the United States government, and Tribal archives that showed the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") allocated funding for the construction of various roads on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation beginning in the early 1900s and continuing to 1970.
Some of these BIA documents show that when road construction was complete, the roads were entrusted to the Town of Lac du Flambeau for maintenance with the clear understanding that ownership remained with the Tribe and the BIA. Previous town chairs have acknowledged and documented the true ownership, also recognizing that federal funding for road upgrades were contingent on the roads remaining in Tribal and/or BIA ownership.
Over the last generation, the Tribe and the Town of Lac du Flambeau have had many disputes over expired easements and rights-of-way, with each side taking different stances concerning ownership and control. Where disputes existed over ownership, the Tribe had the understanding the Town of Lac du Flambeau was also maintaining records, but it seems their efforts have been minimal. The Town has shown little regard or interest in working together with the Tribe to ensure safe roads for the entire community.
As we continue to locate documentation solidifying our ownership of community roads, we have also obtained records showing the approval of land leases to the federal government gathered by Indian Agents, as they were called at that time, to fund the design and building of roads on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. It is documented that the Town of Lac du Flambeau accepted these agreements, with the same understanding that ownership remained with the Tribe and the BIA, and the Town would continue to maintain these roads.
Over many years, the Tribe has made repeated efforts to work with the Town of Lac du Flambeau. The safety of the roads in the Lac du Flambeau community is of the utmost importance to the entire Tribal Council. We want what's best for the entire community, and we thought that having government-to-government relations with the Town of Lac du Flambeau would be in everyone's best interest. However, our efforts have been met with untrue accusations, and a complete lack of respect for our burial sites, our Tribal programs, and Tribal law.
We have heard the rumors in our community, and we share today that the Tribe will not deny any resident of Lac du Flambeau access to their home, nor will any "fee" be imposed on residents. Our maintenance of Tribal roads is funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and we will be following the same regulations as the Town of Lac du Flambeau did - and we will be making the needed repairs that are long overdue. The roads in Lac du Flambeau will be safe and accessible for all users.
The Tribal Council
Joseph Wildcat, Sr., Dee Allen, Jamie Allen, Steven Beson, Eric Chapman, Betty Jo Graveen, John Johnson, Frank Mitchell, Alice Soulier, William Stone, Sr., George Thompson and Melinda Young