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7th Circuit Affirms Stockbridge-Munsee Boundary Dispute In State's Favor


MADISON - In a decision released today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the states position in a longstanding dispute over the boundaries of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Shawano County.  The court refused to expand the boundaries of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community to encompass the reservation as it existed in 1856.  The court agreed with the state that the original reservation ceased to exist as of 1910, and that the current reservation consists of the lands specifically designated as new reservation lands through government proclamations in 1937 and 1948, and an act of Congress in 1972. 


The litigation began in 1998 when the Tribe began operating slot machines at a golf course it purchased on land the state claimed was not within its reservation, making its gaming activity illegal.  The Tribe contended the land was within its original 1856 reservation, the boundaries of which had continued to exist.


The state sued the Tribe to halt the gaming, and in 1999 the United States District Court issued an injunction requiring the gaming activity to cease.  In 2004, the court ruled in the states favor, finding that the original reservation had ceased to exist based upon Congressional legislation in 1871 and 1906.  The Tribe appealed, and todays ruling affirms the decision of the District Court.


I am pleased that the Court of Appeals has confirmed the correctness of the States position on the reservation boundaries, and has hopefully put an end to this longstanding legal dispute, said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.  I also hope that the local community, both tribal and non-tribal, can work cooperatively to resolve whatever differences arise among them, now that the reservation boundaries have been clarified. 


The State was represented in the appeal by Assistant Attorneys General John Greene and Maura Whelan.