WASHINGTON-Thousands of Mdewakanton Dakota Indians who claim a share of the lands and gambling revenues from casinos in Prior Lake and Prairie Island are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The group, led by former Lower Sioux Community Chairman Sheldon Wolfchild, filed a petition Friday asking the court to review a federal appeals ruling that went against them last March.
The case, which dates to 2003, is based on historical claims made by descendants of Mdewakanton Indians who helped white settlers during the 1862 Dakota rebellion in Minnesota.
Numbering more than 20,000 in the United States and Canada, the group is laying claim to some of the lands that form part of the present-day Mystic Lake and Treasure Island casinos.
It bases that claim largely on lower court rulings that the federal government breached a 19th-century trust when it handed control of the lands to the present-day Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Community, which owns the Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos, and the Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns Treasure Island.
Membership in the two communities is limited to several hundred tribal members who enjoy millions of dollars in annual gambling profits. Many of the plaintiffs, descendents of Indians who were expelled from Minnesota after the Dakota rebellion, live on economically depressed reservations in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Morton, Minn.
Minneapolis attorney Erick Kardaal, who filed the petition, said the group has also been bolstered by the support of the Oglala Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where many of the descendants live.
The government has 30 days to respond.
Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2723