A petition for detachment of Citizen Potawatomi Nation land from the City of Shawnee has been found insufficient by City Clerk Phyllis Loftis.

A petition for detachment of Citizen Potawatomi Nation land from the City of Shawnee has been found insufficient by City Clerk Phyllis Loftis.

CPN, in response, has filed a civil complaint in Pottawatomie County District Court.

The land proposed for detachment is located south of the Canadian River. In the Notice of Insufficiency of Petition to Detach, Loftis noted 1,158 acres of the proposed 1,724 are owned by the United States Government in a trust for CPN.

One petition requirement details owners of 75 percent, in value, of the property to be detached, must sign the petition. Loftis, in the Notice, explained the statue does not prescribe a method for determining value.

Relying on city maps, she “determined that the land owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation is primarily rural with small residences.” She stated the government-owned land has “significant improvements.”

“With the significant differences in improvements to the property and the disparity in the amount of land owned, it is my determination that the petition does not meet the requirements,” she said.

CPN’s district court filing states the city received a letter from Kevin Washburn, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs of the United States Department of Interior, defending the tribe’s right to petition for detachment.

“Indian tribes are the beneficial owners of land held for them in trust by the United States,” Washburn said in a letter originally addressed to tribal attorney Gregory Quinlan. “As such, tribes enjoy full and exclusive possession, use and enjoyment of trust lands.”

Washburn added tribal governments exercise jurisdiction over trust lands.

“Trust lands are generally exempt from the jurisdiction of local and state governments, except where Congress has specifically authorized such jurisdiction,” he said.

CPN Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett said, though the land is not within city limits, the tribe requested formal detachment because the city has claimed jurisdiction for the purpose of making CPN the city’s tax collector.

“The Tribe has tried to resolve these issues without litigation, but the City has failed to comply with the state and local requirements set for detachment,” he said.

In a press release issued by CPN, the tribe confirmed it “also requested in its complaint that the courts grant permanent injunction enjoining the City of Shawnee from submitting future detachment petitions to a vote of the people.”

In August, city commission approved an ordinance amending a city charter article that would, under specific circumstances, refer detachment issues to a vote of the people. Commission also passed a resolution calling for a special November election for a vote on whether the amending ordinance should be approved.

New commissioners were seated in September. Barrett believes the ordinance was passed “in an attempt to pre-empt the newly elected City Commission…”

Barrett said the ordinance would be a burden to Shawnee citizens.

“While this ordinance was aimed at tribes,” he said, “the ramifications of it will impact taxpayers in this town for decades to come.”