Dakotas, Edwards have faced off before on council sovereignty

BARAGA – In his recently-dismissed lawsuit against eight other Tribal Council members, Eddy Edwards cited a 2014 suit where he’d been a defendant, in an attempt to show when sovereign immunity could and could not be used as a legal defense.

It may not have been the best strategy, as Tribal Chief Judge Bradley Dakota ruled that case and the current one were actually quite similar, and current defendants were protected by immunity in the same fashion Edwards had been.

Further clouding the picture, both Bradley Dakota and his father Fred Dakota were involved in that case.

Fred Dakota was the plaintiff, suing to invalidate a show-of-hands referendum approving the purchase of the Baraga Lakeside Inn for a new casino.

Bradley Dakota and fellow KBIC Judge Violet Friisvall Ayres were suspended for nearly a week by Edwards and then-council President Don Shalifoe Sr., who were acting as the majority of the tribe’s executive council. Ayres had refused to immediately dismiss the suit, which named Edwards and Shalifoe as defendants, on the grounds of immunity.

Edwards said he’d filed a motion asking Bradley Dakota to recuse himself from the most recent case, his attempt to block council spending of over $10,000 without tribal referendums, but Dakota chose to hear the case himself and eventually dismissed Edwards’ claims.