North Dakota Law

Updates from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Professor Dan Lewerenz serves as expert back reader for NPR’s Throughline

A Tale of Two Tribal Nations

Episode Description

The word “reservation” implies “reserved” – as in, this land is reserved for Native Americans. But most reservation land actually isn’t owned by tribes. Instead, it’s checkerboarded into private farmland, federal forests, summer camps, even resorts. That’s true for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota, where the tribe owns just a tiny fraction of its reservation land. But just northwest of Leech Lake is Red Lake: one of the only reservations in the country where the tribe owns all of its land. So what happened? In this episode, we take a road trip through Leech Lake and Red Lake to tell a tale of two tribal nations, the moments of choice that led them down very different paths, and what the future looks like from where they are now.

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