White Earth Indian Reservation abides restraining order

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JOHN YDSTIE: After the meeting, Vernon Bellecourt, Secretary treasurer of the White Earth Tribal council, said that White Earth officials had decided to abide by Judge Devitt's restraining order. They will not attempt to enforce the reservation Conservation Code in the four disputed counties.

White Earth officials made that decision not because they were coerced by threats of violence, according to Bellecourt, but because avoiding violence is the wisest action to take.

VERNON BELLECOURT: That the threat of injury to our people and our officers is there. And because of that, we have decided to respect Judge Devitt's restraining order, although we're very concerned why the judge would be restraining us and not restraining the county attorneys and the department of natural resources and those white residents within the reservation who are threatening the violence.

JOHN YDSTIE: Another reason for abiding by the order, according to Bellecourt, is the probability that Judge Devitt will hear a case sometime this winter that could decide the jurisdiction issue finally. But Bellecourt said there will still be White Earth conservation officers in the four townships patrolling land owned by Indians or trust land.

Those lands are not affected by the restraining order. Additional federal officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be brought in to beef up the reservation force in that area. If Indians or non-Indians are on those trust lands without permission before the reservation deer season opens next Friday, they will be arrested for trespassing, according to Bellecourt. In Moorhead, this is John Ydstie.


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