Page 3 of 3 Previous

Continued: Chippewa to fish early in treaty clash

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 21, 2010 - 11:40 PM

Members of the Leech Lake and White Earth bands of Chippewa will fish off their reservations in violation of state law on May 14 -- a day before the opening of walleye and northern pike seasons -- to assert treaty rights they claim across virtually all of northern Minnesota.

The bands say those rights include not only off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering, but perhaps also co-management of much of the region's timber and mining -- the first such claims made by Minnesota Chippewa.

If the Chippewa do fish before the season, they'll likely be arrested by Department of Natural Resources conservation officers.

"We hope and expect they'll abide by the law," said Brian McClung, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "If they don't, they'll have to abide by the consequences."

Leech Lake tribal attorney Frank Bibeau said Wednesday that an 1854 treaty with the federal government grants the Leech Lake and White Earth bands off-reservation rights north of Interstate Hwy. 94. The two bands have 30,000 members.

"What we are talking about doing is having a demonstration of solidarity," Bibeau said. "We will have a fishing day probably in the Bemidji area to show we do have the right and could exercise it if we want."

By fishing before the season opens, the bands are "taking the path of least resistance," said Dale Greene, a Leech Lake Band treaty coordinator.

"We want to be good neighbors, and this is the route we're taking now," he said. "We understand we have these rights, now let's work out how we're going to exercise them. If the state wants to arrest people, our attorneys are ready to move forward."

Peter Erlinder, a William Mitchell College of Law professor who has advised the Leech Lake and White Earth bands, said the state of Minnesota should have known since the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Mille Lacs ruling that off-reservation tribal rights to hunt, fish and gather extend to other Minnesota Chippewa.

The state already has hunting, fishing and gathering agreements with Minnesota Chippewa bands, including Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage. But the Leech Lake and White Earth claims reach farther, to other resources that might affect the bands' ability to harvest fish and game.

Erlinder also said the state might owe reparations of as much as $350 million.

"Smart lawyers should have known [after the Wisconsin Chippewa court decisions] in 1988 or after the Mille Lacs decision in 1999 that the state has been sandbagging what it should have been paying the Chippewa," Erlinder said.

What's at stake, he said, "is joint management of all resources in northern Minnesota."

Few public protests against netting by non-band members have occurred in Minnesota, but Wisconsin had near-riotous scenes when Chippewa treaty rights there were affirmed.

The Minnesota Chippewa, Bibeau said, hope to negotiate a resolution to the claims without going to court because a legal battle would be time-consuming and expensive for both sides.

DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten said Wednesday that neither he nor Pawlenty had been notified of the bands' intentions or claims.

Treaty battles

The federal government in the 1800s signed numerous treaties with the Chippewa, or Anishinabe, as they were known.

A century later, in the 1980s, some of the treaties were at the heart of a Chippewa lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin.

The Chippewa won that long-running battle and were awarded hunting, fishing and gathering rights across much of northern Wisconsin.

The Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa followed in 1990, suing Minnesota over similar rights it said were retained in an 1837 treaty. The state countered, unsuccessfully, that subsequent treaties in 1854 and 1855, as well as other litigation and the organization of Minnesota as a state, extinguished those rights.

In 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Mille Lacs. The heart of the band's argument -- and a central point the Leech Lake and White Earth bands make -- was that the 1854 treaty affirmed the bands' hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the ceded territory, and a subsequent treaty agreed to in 1855 left unsaid anything about those rights.

Three northeast Minnesota Chippewa bands -- Fond du Lac, Grand Portage and Bois Forte -- were directly affected by the Wisconsin litigation. When the case was resolved, they and the state of Minnesota formed a pact calling for the state, essentially, to lease the bands' off-reservation rights in the northeast for an annual payment of $6 million.

Fond du Lac has since pulled out of the agreement, and its members exercise off-reservation hunting and fishing rights.

A similar 1972 agreement exists between the state and the Leech Lake Band over non-band fishing access to Leech Lake, which is widely recognized as a jewel in Minnesota's crown of world-class fishing lakes.

The $6 million paid to the northeast Minnesota bands each year buoys Erlinder's belief that overdue payments of perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars are owed by the state to the Leech Lake and White Earth bands.

"The land we're talking about is three or four times as big as the land in the northeast," Erlinder said. "Over the past 20 years of not paying the bands, the state might owe them $350 million."

Greene acknowledged the bands never asked the state for the money. Nor have the Leech Lake or White Earth bands previously asserted the rights they now claim.

"In the 1990s, our elected officials' attentions were elsewhere," Greene said.

Regardless, "Those [in state government] who are empowered to enforce the law" were obligated to extend off-reservation rights or compensation to the bands after the Wisconsin and Mille Lacs decisions, Greene said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close