Do Indians own
By R.J. VILLELLA
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is playing its trump card with
The tribe is laying claim to vast tracts of land – a move that could tie up the deeds of thousands of land owners in the state and make selling or refinancing property a nightmare.
No court papers have been filed yet, but tribal chief Charles Enyart sent a letter to Attorney General Jim Petro last week requesting a meeting at the end of this month and laying the groundwork for future legal action.
In his letter, Enyart said he hopes a settlement can be reached without litigation. The tribe doesn’t want to take land from any Ohioans, the chief stated, but wants to work with the state and local communities to return to their homeland.
Tribal representative Terry Casey said it is a successful strategy, which has worked well in other states. Those governments finally relented after getting pressure from land owners and home owners, he explained.
Mason Morisset, one of the attorneys
“He’s one of the top legal experts,” he noted.
Morisset attached the main points of his argument in a 14-page document with Enyart’s letter requesting a meeting.
Casey noted the
The land on which the steel plant once stood
is one of the sites under consideration in
“We like it as one of the sites we are considering because it is on the Tusc,” Casey said, noting the area was once part of the vast hunting and fishing lands the tribe once held.
In the documents filed with Petro, the
Despite U.S. Army raids and encroachment by
the settlers, Morisset states in the document, the
The tribe was forced to move within
The tribe has named four specific areas in
The Shawnee used and occupied vast hunting grounds in three general areas – the Muskingum Valley, which the Tuscarawas is part of, to the Ohio River; land east of the Little Miami to the Hocking River and the land between the Little Miami and the Great Miami rivers; and a tract of land stretching from Little Miami to the Mad River.
The Treaty of Greenville, Morisset states, allows the tribe the right to use these lands to the present day.
“There is no question the Shawnee were
violently and illegally dispossessed of their lands, forced onto reservations
far away from their aboriginal homeland and denied fair and just compensation
for the unlawful taking of their lands,” Morisset wrote in his letter to Petro. “The
Steve DiPietro, one of owners of the Republic site, noted the strategy the tribe is using has been successful in other states.
“A tribe in
“This claim will make it much easier for Gov. Bob Taft and Jim Petro to enter into a compact with the Indians.”