Mille Lacs Band officials say the 11-year-old boy was beaten up last fall by another boy and was scheduled to attend a court hearing in March. When he didn't show up, Mille Lacs County put out a warrant for his arrest.
When the sheriff's department took him into custody, they placed him in handcuffs, shackled his feet and dressed him in an orange jumpsuit.
Rjay Brunkow, attorney for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, feels that treatment was harsh.
"Everyone has been shocked at the treatment that this child had. Our understanding is that this was way out of line," Bunkow says.
Brunkow says tribal officials also question why a non-Indian girl in custody at the same time was not handcuffed and shackled.
The Mille Lacs county attorney, Jan Kolb, says the girl was being picked up for truancy, which is a civil matter that doesn't require handcuffs.
Kolb says they've had problems with people escaping from custody at the county courthouse. Since 2004, they've handcuffed, shackled and dressed in orange. That policy applies regardless of age.
"The juveniles are quicker than an adult running out the front doors of the courthouse," Kolb says. "They used to wear plain clothes and not have shackles and we've had juveniles bolting out the front doors of the courthouse and running into the neighboring swamps and runing through the residential areas. When they're in plain clothes they don't stand out and it's difficult to apprehend them again."
The Mille Lacs Band wants Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson to investigate the matter. Two state lawyers are in Mille Lacs County interviewing witnesses and trying to determine if the state has the proper jurisdiction to investigate the case.
Meanwhile the Minnesota office of the American Civil Liberties Union is asking Gov. Tim Pawlenty to look into the issue. The ACLU is also asking state Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to consider legislative action that would prevent this type of arrest.