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Red Cliff Tribe prevails in Federal Lawsuit against Bayfield County over Zoning

Press Release Red Cliff Tribe, Jan. 9, 2020


Today, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians prevailed in its federal lawsuit against Bayfield County who had asserted zoning jurisdictions over Red Cliff Reservation fee simple lands owned by the Tribe and its members. In its 22-pages ruling the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin found that the County’s assertion of authority over tribal member fee lands were unlawful, holding that the County failed to show necessary Congressional intent that state law would apply in such situations.


Tribal Chairman Rick Peterson stated “The Red Cliff Tribal Council remains committed to defending unlawful assertions of non-tribal authority. As we cautioned previously, Bayfield County’s intrusion into the Red Cliff Tribal government’s right to govern its members within its own territory will not go unchecked.”


“This is an important win for Miskwaabekong and its members,” said Tribal Attorney David Ujke. “This case was really about the right of the Red Cliff Tribe to govern its own members within its own territory. We’re glad that the federal court acknowledged that central premise.”


The federal court’s decision means that Bayfield County is now prohibited from enforcing its zoning ordinances against the Tribe or its members within the Red Cliff Reservation. The Tribe was represented in the case by Godfrey & Kahn of Milwaukee Wisconsin.