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Owner of a disputed junkyard claims to belong to 'Pembina' band


The owner of a junkyard that has run afoul of building and zoning laws in Florida claims he is a member of the Pembina Sovereign Nation Little Shell Band, an illegitimate group that claims Ojibwe ancestry.

Officials in Charlotte County have found numerous housing, safety, sewage and other violations on the two-acre property owned by Robert C. Sumner. The site is home to numerous vehicles, some RVs and other structures.

"This is not a routine code enforcement case," county attorney Janette Knowlton told The Sarasota Herald Tribune. At one point, sheriff's deputies raided the site over code violations.

Sumner says he is being harassed because he of his Pembina affiliation. He filed suit against county officials in "tribal court" and says he won a $300,000 judgment.

"I'm convinced they're being harassed because of the group they are," Damian Panno, a paralegal who is helping Sumner, told the paper.

The Pembina Band, which has been labeled an extremist group by the Anti-Defamation League, is not affiliated with any federally recognized tribe or with the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, which is recognized by the state of Montana.

Get the Story:
Charlotte County eyes end to code dispute (The Sarasota Herald Tribune 7/19)