The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians issued a temporary access permit on the barricaded roads on Monday which allows roads with expired easements to reopen as part of a temporary agreement with the town of Lac du Flambeau.

A statement released by Tribal President John D. Johnson Sr. said the move is to provide a window of opportunity for the town and title companies to make a viable offer to get this situation resolved.

The permits are in 30-day increments and the tribal council has only authorized three total (90 days) for each road. The roads involved are Annie Sunn Lane, Center Sugarbush Lane, East Ross Allen Lake Lane and Elsie Lake Lane.

“To be crystal clear, the tribe still expects compensation for unauthorized land use and disregard of our private property,” President Johnson said. “This includes expenses incurred over 10 years, as well as terms to protect tribal lands from unauthorized use so future generations of tribal membership can live peacefully without worry.”

Johnson also urged impacted property owners to press for immediate action by the town and title companies to resolve the matter.

“More specifically, the tribe believes the involved title insurance companies and town are financially responsible,” Johnson said. “The tribe also believes the involved title insurance companies and town know they are financially responsible. With this in mind, it makes sense as to why the involved title insurance companies and town have low-balled the tribe in the negotiations and seemingly misled individual property owners.

“This leaves individual property owners on the hook financially while the involved title insurance companies and town portray themselves as being on the side of the property owners. In fact, it appears the fox is watching the hen house.”

Johnson also alleges the town and companies have “disregarded our tribal sovereignty.”

“This is important because our tribal sovereignty allows us to set and enforce laws and regulations on our land to preserve and protect the 12-by-12 square mile reservation we have remaining after ceding millions of acres of land to the federal government. Tribal sovereignty is a political status recognized by the federal government, protected by the U.S. Constitution, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said in the statement.

The statement went on to say, “The town and the involved title insurance companies, and in some cases realtors who sold unknowing property owners land without clear title, appear to have ignored or disregarded the private property rights associated with tribal lands. This likely influenced the town and title companies’ decisions on whether they would negotiate in good faith, meaning they accept and take responsibility for their actions or inactions in informing property owners of easements.”

This comes just after about 40 homeowners affected by the barricades were denied a restraining order and preliminary injunction against the tribe last week by U.S. District Judge William Conley.

The motion, filed March 6, sought “immediate relief” from the tribe’s “ongoing violations of federal law that have caused an imminent threat to the safety, health and well-being of, and irreparable harm to” the plaintiffs.

The brief stated the barricades were placed in violation of federal law and also asked that no future barricades be installed.

According to Conley’s ruling issued March 8, he denied the motion because “plaintiffs have not yet shown that injunctive relief is warranted without giving defendants an opportunity to be heard.”

The judge gave the tribe until March 28 to file a response to the injunction, and also set March 14 as the deadline for the plaintiffs to “explain under what authority, and what cause of action, this court could enter an injunction, beyond citing a federal regulation and the Declaratory Judgment Act.”

The tribe issued a written statement March 10 regarding the ruling, saying it “calls into question whether the court has jurisdiction to issue an injunction and how the plaintiffs presented their case.”

The tribe placed barricades on the four roads listed above on Jan. 31, blocking homeowners from entering or leaving their residences. It is now seeking $20 million from the town and title companies to secure a use agreement, recoup past costs associated with the ongoing dispute, and address more than a decade of what they see as trespassing on tribal lands.