ELKO (AP) -- An Ojibwe man has declared a piece of land in this tiny town a sovereign nation, opened a strip club and pledged to fight anyone who tries to mess with either.
"There ain't no way on God's Earth that they're going to stop me," said Al LaFontaine, 82, of St. Paul.
It's not the first time LaFontaine has said that.
In 1959, he offered to sell a third of North Dakota to the Soviet Union and he's put forth a variety of schemes to build casinos on land that he's bought and declared sovereign.
As an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain band of Ojibwe in North Dakota, LaFontaine said he received a document that gives him land rights in place of a parcel on the band's reservation.
He said that entitles him to make the Elko land his own reservation. Elko is south of the Twin Cities, just off Interstate 35.
"This is my pilot project," LaFontaine said. "What I'm doing in Scott County, I'm going to do in every major city in the United States."
Good luck, experts say.
"It's not up to him to declare it as a sovereign reservation," said Mark Anderson, an attorney with Jacobson, Buffalo, Schoessler & Magnuson, which represents many Midwestern Indian tribes. LaFontaine once sued Anderson over a previous investment deal involving Indian gaming at the Prom Center in Oakdale.
The U.S. Interior Department can establish new reservations. But the process takes years, and a state's governor must agree with the plan, which has stymied a Hudson dog track proposal for years.
In the meantime, LaFontaine's strip club -- which has no name but was formerly known as Circus Circus -- is driving some locals crazy.
"It is frustrating," said Andrea Poehler, city attorney of Elko. Managing the typical lawsuits surrounding strip clubs is easier, she said, than "dealing with LaFontaine, who is really coming out of left field."
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