Written by: Matthew Fletcher
Primary Source : Turtle Talk, April 1, 2016
Here are the materials in Turunen v. Creagh (W.D. Mich.):
Plaintiff, Brenda Turunen, is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), a federally recognized Indian tribe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that is the successor-in-interest to the L’Anse and Ontonagon bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. In 1842, the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians signed a treaty with the United States of America, 7 Stat. 591 (the 1842 Treaty), in which the Indian signatories ceded large portions of the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but reserved “the right of hunting on the ceded territory, with the other usual privileges of occupancy.” 7 Stat. 591.
Plaintiff owns property that is within the “ceded territory” at issue in the 1842 Treaty. Plaintiff asserts that the “the usual privileges of occupancy” reserved by the KBIC on the ceded territory included commercial farming and animal husbandry. Based on that interpretation of the 1842 Treaty, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that she may—as a member of the KBIC—raise animals free from state regulation on her property within the ceded territory.
Plaintiff’s claim rests on the twin propositions that the KBIC retained certain rights in the 1842 Treaty, and that she may exercise such rights based on her membership in the KBIC. Although the Court must determine the scope of the rights retained by the KBIC to resolve Plaintiff’s claim, the KBIC is not a party to this action. Thus, the Court previously sought briefing from the parties regarding whether the KBIC should be joined pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19, and whether the case should be dismissed if the KBIC could not be joined. After the parties responded, the Court—at Plaintiff’s urging—ordered Plaintiff to notify the KBIC of the pending action and the opportunity to intervene. The KBIC followed up to that notification with a letter to the Court stating that it would not intervene in the action, and further urging that the action be dismissed under Rule 19. For the following reasons, the Court concludes that the matter should be dismissed.
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