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Chippewa Federation meets to discuss sovereignty issues, opiate epidemic and Indian Child Welfare

By Joe Morey News Editor


The Chippewa Federation, a loosely unified organization of the six bands of Lake Superior Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin, met last week in Mole Lake to discuss several issues important to the bands, including sovereignty issues, Indian Child Welfare and the opiate epidemic.


LCO Tribal Governing Board member Tweed Shuman said he spoke with the other tribal leaders about recent victories in sovereignty with tribal lending issues and hunting rights.


“We need to come together as tribes in exercising our sovereignty,” Shuman said. “It’s important we continue expressing our sovereign rights in all aspects; hunting, gathering, health care, business, our enterprises. We are equal to the states and should not be governed or regulated by them.”


According to the Chippewa Federation website, the tribes came together out of the, “Need to preserve the collective sovereignty and self-determination of the Anishinabe or Ojibwe (Chippewa) people whose existence predates the US federal government and state of Wisconsin government.”


The website goes on to say, “The Bands have united to pursue common interests politically, environmentally, economically and socially. Preservation of the inherent right to hunt, gather and subsist within the area known as the "ceded territory" is a primary initiative of the Federation.”


Shuman said Indian Child Welfare issues were also discussed at the meeting. He said there is severe lack of staffing in ICW programs across all tribes due to inadequate federal funding.

“This creates delays for us,” Shuman stated. “There are policy and procedure issues that need to be addressed to better serve our tribal members.”


Shuman said the tribes also strongly support the Teague Protocol which allows circuit court judges to transfer Indian Child Welfare and Child Support cases into tribal courts, declaring it is a sovereignty issue.


Regarding the opiate epidemic, Shuman said the issue was discussed at length. He noted other tribes are watching our new Healing to Wellness Court.


“Our new court is a model for other tribes,” Shuman explained. “We are moving our people into programming and rehabilitation versus incarceration and alienation.”


Shuman said it was discussed at the meeting as part of the fight against the opiate epidemic to get our people turning to culture and tradition as an alternative to narcotics.


In conclusion, the six bands of the Chippewa Federation are planning a gathering at Madeleine Island September 28, 29, 30, bringing all the tribes together in observance of Treaty Day and exercising our sovereignty.


The mission of the Chippewa Federation states, “To protect the natural resources within the ceded-territory and across Mother Earth. To diversify economic and educational opportunities, increase the level of health care, further the political position and expand the social status of Tribal Members and Descendants of the member Tribes. To ensure a quality of life that members, descendants and future generations can enjoy in perpetuity.”


The Chippewa Federation bands meet every few months at a different tribal community.