Roads blocked in land spat involving American Indian tribe

February 7, 2023 GMT

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. (AP) — Roads have been blocked in northern Wisconsin in a dispute involving homeowners and an American Indian tribe.

Leaders of the Lac du Flambeau tribe set up barricades on Jan. 30 after negotiations with property title companies broke down, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

The tribe said the roads were illegally built on its reservation without compensation. Leaders insist they are taking care of residents who need food, prescriptions, propane and other services, but some people feel trapped.

“We understand that this is a difficult time for those residents and have tried to show compassion for their predicament,” the tribe said.

David Kievet said officials told him he could drive away but he wouldn’t be allowed back in. He said he’s relying instead on a friend’s snowmobile to travel across a frozen lake.

“From my records, there are 55 affected properties,” Kievet said. “So far, I have enrolled about 25 of the property owners in a community site where we can exchange information.”

Two lawmakers, Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Tomahawk, and Rep. Rob Swearingen, R-Rhinelander, have asked Gov. Tony Evers to intervene. The Press-Gazette said he visited the area last weekend.

“It’s imperative that action be taken immediately to ensure the safety of citizens who are not to blame for the current situation,” the lawmakers said.