District 15, Illinois
News from the Congressman

For Immediate Release
February 16, 2001
Contact:  Matt Bisbee
Phone:  (217) 403-4690
(217) 649-1754

Johnson Says Miami Tribe’s Fight is with the Federal Government

Congressman to introduce new legislation protecting Illinois landowners

Champaign County, Illinois… U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL, 15) says the Miami Indian Tribe should drop their lawsuit against 15 Illinois landowners and bring their claim before the Federal Government. Johnson is set to introduce legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will waive sovereign immunity and allow the tribe to file claim in U.S. Federal Court to seek settlement.

“This bill that I will introduce when we return to Washington is designed to let the individual landowners off the hook with the Miami Indians and put the Federal Government in their place,” noted Johnson. “The Miami Tribe has no dispute with people like Rex Walden. He was named in their lawsuit only because of the way the law is written; forbidding the Tribe from suing Government at any level. I want to change the language of that law so Mr. Walden and other landowners can be rid of this problem.”

Johnson continued by saying that if the Federal Government finds that the Tribe does deserve a settlement, then his legislation would allow for a cash settlement.

“But by no means will it allow for the Miami Indians to gain ownership of any land in Central Illinois,” exclaimed the Congressman. “These landowners and everyone else who owns property in the disputed area will continue on as rightful landowners despite the outcome of a Miami lawsuit against the Federal Government.”

Congressman Johnson was joined today by U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert at a news conference on the farm owned by Rex Walden. Mr. Walden is the landowner in Champaign County named by the Miami Indians in their lawsuit. Hastert was very supportive of Johnson’s proposed legislation and pledged to continue working with him to find a solution in the U.S. Congress.

Johnson stated he has been committed to protecting the Central Illinois landowners who were unwillingly thrust into this lawsuit since their ordeal began last year. This initial bill that essentially waives sovereign immunity is what Johnson calls a “rifle shot” approach to ending the dispute.



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