Mahnomen County farmer Dave Vipond applied for an irrigation permit from the State of Minnesota in March and it was approved in August. The day after the permit was issued, the White Earth Nation served Vipond a legal summons with the assertion additional permitting was required to irrigate out of the Wild Rice River on the southwest border of the White Earth Reservation. “The issue isn’t whether we irrigate or not,” said Vipond. “It’s really who has jurisdiction over the farming; we always assumed it was the State of Minnesota and have always followed state rules.” Vipond says the tribe is claiming jurisdiction on and five miles outside the border of the reservation boundary. “If this goes the wrong direction and no one stands up and makes them accountable for this, we could lose a bunch of rights as farmers.” A meeting was held in Bejou, Minnesota to inform farmers, landowners and political leaders about the legal action.
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