Bois Forte Band Gets 28,000 Acres of Land Back in Northern Minnesota

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  1stwarrior  •  3 weeks ago  •  6 comments

Bois Forte Band Gets 28,000 Acres of Land Back in Northern Minnesota
In the largest land-back agreement in Minnesota and one of the largest-ever in Indian Country, the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe today restored more than 28,000 acres of land within its reservation boundaries back to tribal ownership.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The purchase of the 28,089 acres in northern Minnesota from  The Conservation Fund  will restore lands that were sold by the federal government to non-Natives as “surplus” under the Allotment Act, which attempted to break up tribal reservations. 

“So when we hear about reservations today, a lot of that land is not our land,” Cathy Chavers, chairwoman of The Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, said during a   live streamed   announcement today at Nett Lake, Minn. 

Chavers described the Bois Forte reservation as a “checkerboard” that sits roughly 45 miles south of the Canadian border. The “checkerboard” reservation is divided into three sectors: Nett Lake, Vermilion, and Deer Creek. The 28,000 acres will be restored in the Nett Lake and Deer Creek sections of the reservation.

Bois Forte Band tribal member Kristen Lilya, who also works as a marketing specialist for   Native News Online , said that, growing up, she thought her tribe’s land began and ended at the reservation line.

“As I grew older, I realized how checker-boarded (it is) is actually due to Allotment,” Lilya said. “I am glad that this land is coming back to our reservation today because it will be used for generations to come.”

The Bois Forte Band plans to directly manage the restored lands under a forest management plan that emphasizes conservation and environmental protection,  balanced with economic and cultural benefits to the Band and its members, according to a statement. 

The purchase was financed by the   Indian Land Capital Company  (ILCC), a certified Native Community Development Financial Institution that is owned by the   Indian Land Tenure Foundation , a national, community-based organization serving tribal nations and people in the recovery and control of their homelands. 

"ILCC is proud to provide the financing to make this transaction possible," CEO Rjay Brunkow told   Native News Online . "It represents one of the larger transactions in company history and we are proud and honored to provide the financing to make this historic land acquisition happen. We are especially happy to partner with the Bois Forte Tribe in this massive expansion of the tribe's land base." 

Bois Forte Chairwoman Chavers said that today is historic not just for the Bois Forte Band, but for Indian Country.

“Today we are acquiring—not through legislative action—over 28,000 acres of land that our tribe of 3,500 members does not have to pay a dime for.”

“I really want to say that because this is the largest restoration in the state of Minnesota and in the country, ever, that we are making history,” Chavers said. “We are proud to be here today to bring this back to our people, and our ancestors are looking down upon us and they are very happy because land is coming back.” 

Leaders from The Conservation Fund and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation hailed the agreement. 

“This outcome honors the heritage of this land by reuniting it with the Bois Forte Band and ensuring its long-term stewardship,” Larry Selzer, The Conservation Fund’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We respect the Band as the best possible caretakers for this forestland and celebrate together this historic milestone.”  

Cris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, called the announcement a "meaningful step" that he hopes inspires other land-back activities throughout Indian Country.  

"As we work to ensure more Indian lands return to Indian hands, today’s announcement demonstrates a meaningful step on the long journey ahead,” Stainbrook said in a statement. “We are proud to have helped the Bois Forte Band reach this milestone moment and hope that it inspires many more like it throughout Indian Country. And, it reminds all of us that restoring land to Indian ownership, management and control is more than a hashtag, it is a reality.” 

The return of the land to the Bois Forte Tribe is the latest land-back agreement in the state of Minnesota over the past two years. Last month, the   Associated Press reported   that the federal government would return 12,000 acres of Minnesota land it had wrongfully taken from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. In February 2021, the Minnesota Historical Society   transferred approximately 115 acres of land back   to the ownership of the Lower Sioux Indian Community. 

With news coverage of each land back agreement comes an opportunity to educate the general public about how the federal government and other organizations took the land from tribes. Bois Forte Chairwoman Chavers said the tribe is pushing for true Native history to be taught in Minnesota schools.

“We've heard about the boarding school issues, and those have really come to light,” she said “But not a lot has not been told of our history of our land that was taken from us.

“I know that our tribal leaders today and a lot of educators are working to get our Native American history taught in our schools so people understand what significance and importance this day has for Bois Forte.”

Editor's Note:  This story has been updated to clarify the financing of the project and to add a quote from Indian Land Capital Company. 


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1stwarrior
Professor Guide
1  seeder  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago

With news coverage of each land back agreement comes an opportunity to educate the general public about how the federal government and other organizations took the land from tribes. Bois Forte Chairwoman Chavers said the tribe is pushing for true Native history to be taught in Minnesota schools.

“We've heard about the boarding school issues, and those have really come to light,” she said “But not a lot has not been told of our history of our land that was taken from us.

“I know that our tribal leaders today and a lot of educators are working to get our Native American history taught in our schools so people understand what significance and importance this day has for Bois Forte.”

When I was working with DoD, I was on a committee with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.  We were working on approximately 112 land "buy-back" programs with the Tribes/Nations.  This "buy-back" with the Bois Forte Tribe was part of that agenda.  

Glad to see it come to fruition.  Now, if the other projects can get successful completion . . . . .

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Good to see this news. Bois de Forte (strong wood) reservation is very remote and in heavy timber country, thus the name of the band. 

The 12,000 acres returned to the Leech Lake Band were from a lawsuit that the band won in the 1970s and it only took the US government 50 years to return it. LOL, pretty typical of the government. The land was illegally taken to increase the size of the Chippewa National Forest in the 1950s. 

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
2.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @2    3 weeks ago

Yeah - at that time, it's a wonder it even happened :-)

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3  Hallux    3 weeks ago

28,089 acres sounds impressive but it is only 44 sq. miles and is dwarfed by many privately owned land areas:

"The chairman of Liberty Media takes top honors as the largest private landowner in the country. Malone blames his good friend Ted Turner for giving him the land bug. He sure got bit bad. Malone’s 2.2 million acres edge out Turner’s 2 million acres. Northern California’s Emmerson family ranks third nationwide with just under 2 million acres of timberland in the Pacific Northwest. Here are farming’s first families."

“I know that our tribal leaders today and a lot of educators are working to get our Native American history taught in our schools so people understand what significance and importance this day has for Bois Forte.”

All to the good, but remember that 'real' history starts in 1776 ... /s

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1  Kavika   replied to  Hallux @3    3 weeks ago
I know that our tribal leaders today and a lot of educators are working to get our Native American history taught in our schools so people understand what significance and importance this day has for Bois Forte.”

CRT /s

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
3.2  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Hallux @3    3 weeks ago

1492 - FWIW.

 
 

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