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February 1, 2001

Governor Signs Bill to Help Landowners in Fight to Keep Property

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation enabling the State of Illinois to join 15 East-Central Illinois landowners in the defense of their property. The bill authorizes the Attorney General's office to pay for legal services to defend the property owners in a lawsuit filed by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. .

"This legislation is consistent with the State's stance to fight for the rights of these property owners," Governor Ryan said. "The ultimate issue at stake is state sovereignty."

The Miami Tribe is suing 15 landowners in East-Central Illinois, in what is a test case for a claim to over 2.6 million acres. The Miami Tribe's claim is based on an 1805 federal treaty.

The State of Illinois has not been named as a defendant in the suit, but the Attorney General has determined that a loss of state sovereignty would result if the Native American Tribe's lawsuit to claim title to the land is successful.

Some of the landowners have title insurance and are being defended by their title companies, but in other cases, the property has been in families for so long there wasn't a need for the insurance.

Senate Bill 1975 authorizes the Attorney General's office to spend up to $100,000 in this defense.


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