November 23, 1998
Contact: Ken Fish, Director,
Menominee Treaty Rights and Mining Impacts Office:
(715) 799-5620 or email@example.com
Chairman Apesanahkwat's Response to Menominee Treaty Rights Case:
"Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin vs. Tommy G. Thompson"
(Keshena, WI) As Chairman of the Menominee Nation, I am very disappointed
with the decision by the United States Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals in reference to our off reservation Treaty Rights Case. Having
received the opinion on Wednesday, November 18, 1998, the Tribe is just now
absorbing the effects, impacts, and exploring our options.
As Chairman, these are my views and not necessarily the views of the Tribal
Legislature at this time.
Indian country, since the coming of the Europeans, has witnessed and
experienced assassination, massacres, genocide, assimilation, termination,
restoration, anti-Indian congressional legislation, and judicial
termination. So we should not be surprised as an Indigenous Nation that
this case is another imperialistic fascist act of the dominant society
attacking the minority and principles of National and International Law.
Law professors throughout the United States should be outraged with this
ruling and other civil case rulings with regard to the diminishment of the
foundation of principles, which the United States Constitution was created.
The courts in this case are clearly moving away from Judicious Prudence, the
principle of stare decisis with respect to court decisions being abandoned.
Imperialists and fascists, I am sure are gloating over this victory which
extends to all future cases.
The following is an excerpt from Attorney General James Doyle representing
the State of Wisconsin press statement issued November 18, 1998:
"This is a major victory for states like Wisconsin that believe treaties
should be enforced according to their plain language," Doyle said.
"We believe the Menominee were asking the courts to interpret the
treaty as they would like it to have been written, not how it was
The Court ignored the Cannons of Treaty Construction. The Cannon is written
plain language does not determine the Treaty, but how the Indians
understood what the Treaty said.
"This was a highly complex case," Doyle said. "We are told it is
the first of its kind, where a court has ruled that the treaty language
is clear and unambiguous."
It is fact; a court record in our case has never been established. The
District and Appeals Court ignored the Cannons of Treaty Construction, which
in all Treaty cases previous to ours a record was required and established.
Therefore, making our treaty case a national precedent for all of Indian
Country. Doyle's previous statement verifies this.
The following is an excerpt from Appellate Judge Coffey of the 7th Circuit
Court of Appeals:
"According to Coffey, the Menominee "could not reasonably have
expected to continue hunting and fishing on the land ceded in 1848,
considering the Tribe had just agreed to leave the Wisconsin land
and move to the Minnesota reservation approximately 300 miles away."
"As it turned out, they did not move to Minnesota. The Menominee
claimed they had been defrauded by the 1848 treaty, but the court
rejected that argument."
Again without a record established before the Court is an ignorance of the
Cannons of Treaty Construction. The written plain language does not
determine the Treaty, but how the Indians' understood what the Treaty said.
Back in 1969, as a young combat Viet Nam Veteran coming home from Viet Nam,
sitting in Okinawa waiting for the final flight home, depressed and
confused, wondering was this all worth it? Walking through the gate to my
flight I observed a sign that said, "For those who fought freedom has flavor
the protected will never know." After reading these words, my combat
experience was made right with myself.
Returning home to the Menominee Indian Reservation, I found myself observing
how the Menominee were terminated then recently restored with less land.
Termination changed our way of life from ultimate prosperity to welfare and
poverty. A congressional act robbed us of our land and culture.
Restoration of our Indian Trust Status came by Congress in 1973. The United
States Government admitted their mistake. Loss of self government, land,
economy, and resources was not all restored, leaving us in social, economic,
and cultural ruin. In 1975, armed with weapons, myself and 49 other brave
men and women warriors seized the Alexian Brothers Novitiate in protest.
Our cry was dead or death, a school or hospital for the people. We felt we
were not living in the democracy. We found it was not justice and liberty
Today, I call on the United States Supreme Court of America to hear our case
and correct the wrongs of the District and 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. As
Americans we need not send the wrong message to the Nation and to the
International community, that Treaties are to be interpreted only to benefit
the United States, but to interpret the understandings of both parties.
We need not send the same message that Hitler sent to his people in Germany.
Let's not allow our Judicial system to sit at the gates of Dachau and
Auschwitz in the name of equal justice for all.
We call on the civil liberties unions, Indian Nations, and Constitutional
organizations to help correct this travesty of justice.
This is not an issue of economics, but a moral issue; therefore I am
encouraging the Legislature of the Menominee Nation to file a writ of
certiorari to the United States Supreme Court to rectify this case.
For comments or questions, please contact Ken Fish at (715) 799-5620
or firstname.lastname@example.org or view our website at http://www.menominee.com/treaty/home.html
(To see articles on the 1995 suit and 1996 ruling, see