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RDO Farms sues White Earth officials over off-reservation water regulation

MINNEAPOLIS - The R.D. Offutt Farms Co. has filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis asking the court to "provide clarity" on who regulates water use on White Earth Nation in northwest Minnesota.

In the 341-page lawsuit filed on May 3, 2024, the suit names the defendants as White Earth Division of Natural Resources, specifying Dustin Roy as director of the White Earth Division of Natural Resources, and other "John Does" acting as conservation officers. RDO Farms is represented by Erin Westbrook and John Stoviac of Saul Ewing LLP, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and John F. Stoviac of Wayne, Pennsylvania. It is unclear whether a judge has been assigned.

The White Earth Nation on May 5, 2023, passed a water ordinance that gives the tribe jurisdiction over all water use - not only on the reservation, but also in a five-mile "buffer" belt around the reservation. The tribe has said that its ordinance applies to non-tribal members, private landowners and all water users who have existing water appropriation permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.


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