LOGAN — The Notoweega Nation, which local Internet cafe owner Marshal Lucas “Great Elk Dancer for his Elk Nation” claims to be a member of, is not recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs or the state of Ohio, The Logan Daily News has learned.
A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court last week by Lucas that alleges public officials have interfered with his commerce, which he describes as tribal business.
Those listed in the lawsuit include the City of Logan, Logan Police Chief Aaron Miller, Lt. Gregg Cluley, Logan Police Officers Josh Mowery and Tony Byram, Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf, Logan City Mayor Martin Irvine, former Logan City Law Director Bob Lilley, Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson, and employees of the Hocking County Probation Department.
Lucas, who says he is a member of the Notoweega Nation, is asking the court for “injunctive relief and declaratory judgment as well as compensatory damages for the value of the business opportunity or expectancy that was lost as a result of the defendants tortuous and improper interference in the amount of which is $20 million.”
According to a representative from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Notoweega Nation is an unrecognized tribe.
According to the bureau, unrecognized tribes are organizations of people who claim to be historically, culturally and genetically related to historic Native American Indian tribes, but who have not been officially recognized as legitimate indigenous nations by the larger U.S. federal government or by individual states.
Lucas told The Logan Daily News that his tribal recognition is federally pending under the Chickamauga Notoweega Creeks Tribe. Upon further investigation, The Logan Daily News learned that the Chickamauga Notoweega Creeks Tribe also is unrecognized.
According to Lucas, the Treaty of Canandaiqua of 1794, Jay Treaty of 1794, Greenville Treaty of 1795, 42 USC Section 1983 and the U.S. Constitution exempt him from prosecution and harassment by the City of Logan in state court for violations of city ordinances.
Some of the complaints in the suit include allegations that Miller visited Mingo Trading Company in 2008 because of a noise complaint in the middle of the day and allegedly told Lucas he needed to file for an event license; Logan Police officers allegedly followed his customers and harassed them after leaving his place of business; probation officers allegedly threatened individuals with arrest should they frequent his establishment and slandered his business by calling it a “head shop.”
Also according to court documents, Lucas alleges that his Internet café, Red Door, was closed for seven month due to “made up” code violations, which caused a loss of revenue and overhead cost and expenditures on the building.
Defendants have allegedly intended to impair and destroy his business and relationships with third parties, and that denial of license and police harassment was caused as a result of Lucas’ national origin in that he is Native American, the court record continues.
A total of 19 complaints against the defendants are listed in the lawsuit.
In speaking with a representative from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs on Thursday, unless Lucas’ “tribal businesses” are located on tribal grounds, which would include Indian reservations, he “doesn’t have a leg to stand on [in court].” The representative did not provide his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the bureau’s behalf. A message seeking comment from the official bureau spokesperson was not returned.
According to the spokesperson, all tribal businesses are subject to all local, state and federal laws when not located on tribal grounds. And the treaties do not guarantee anything or exempt Lucas from any laws or rules governing the City of Logan, Hocking County, the State of Ohio or the U.S. Government.
The spokesperson said in the late 1700s when some of the treaties were enacted, there were no Native American Indians in business because white men operated most of the trading posts.
Once the business operator leaves the confines of the reservation, and opens their business in areas such as Downtown Logan, they are treated the same as any other business owner in that particular area, he noted.