Miami tribe drops suit over land in Illinois
Karen Rivedal, Tribune staff reporter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
North Sports Final
a surprising move, the Miami tribe of Oklahoma on Thursday
withdrew a federal lawsuit seeking 2.6 million acres in east central
Illinois that it had argued belonged to it by treaty.
The Miami Indians
filed a motion to dismiss the case in U.S. District Court in Benton,
and the court granted it, ending a yearlong legal battle. The lawsuit
had sought land in 15 counties, including parcels covered by state
parks and the University of Illinois in Champaign.
also named 15 Illinois landowners, prompting Illinois Atty. Gen.
Jim Ryan's office to intervene on their behalf. "This removes
a cloud over the heads of many landowners in central Illinois that's
been present for more than a year," Ryan's spokesman Dan Curry
office called the tribe's decision to give up the lawsuit
a victory for Illinois and the landowners.
stance from the beginning was that these were innocent Illinois homeowners
and landowners whom the tribe really should not have had any
fight with," spokesman Scott Mulford said.
Miami tribe lawyer
Leslie M. Turner said Ryan's decision to get involved was a factor
in the tribe's decision to end the suit. The tribe also
wanted to spare individual landowners a lengthy court battle, she
Turner said the tribe would continue fighting for its land,
which the Indians contend was ceded to them by the federal government
nearly 200 years ago. Tribe lobbyists earlier this year said
they also were open to other settlement options, such as a cash payment
or the grant of unsettled lands.
The tribe had
until Friday to respond to motions filed by Ryan's office in April
to dismiss the suit. Mulford said the state's
lawyers were shocked when that wouldn't happen.
was a surprise to everybody," he said.
court briefs, Ryan's office argued the suit should be dismissed because
it called into question the state's sovereignty and ability to serve
its residents, Mulford said.
2001, Chicago Tribune
Record Number: CTR0106150303