President Obama signed a bill into law today that allows the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Carlton County to swap thousands of acres of land.
In exchange for 3,200 acres of reservation land that Carlton County currently owns, Fond du Lac will relinquish 1,451 acres of land off the reservation.
The bill is based on an agreement worked out several years ago by tribal and county leaders, said Carlton County Land Commissioner Greg Bernu. The exchanged property is estimated to be of equal value.
Congressman Rick Nolan wrote the U.S. House bill and U.S. Sen. Al Franken authored the Senate counterpart. Nolan says the legislation rectifies a promise broken by the federal government in the mid-1800s.
“Despite the 1854 treaty that set aside 101,000 acres of land exclusively for the Fond du Lac Reservation, homesteaders and others were wrongly allowed to settle on this land — much of which was then later forfeited to the county for non-payment of taxes,” Nolan said during a December speech on the House floor.
“The result today is a checkerboard of ownership that significantly limits both the band’s and the county’s ability to effectively manage lands they both control.”
The Star Tribune could not immediately reach Fond du Lac chairwoman Karen Diver for comment.