Other news from around the country
Juneau - In the ongoing dispute over subsistence fishing in Alaska, four native women used an illegal net to catch five red salmon in defiance of laws against subsistence fishing in Alaska's urban areas. According to one of the women, they "have an inherent human right to do this." They contend that laws against subsistence fishing in urban areas amounts to a ban on culture and tradition, even though the Department of Game and Fish issues permits for cultural and educational uses.
Boston - A federal judge ruled last month that the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) must end an investigation into charges of discrimination by the Wampanoag Indian Tribe. The judged based his decision not on the merits of the allegations, but rather on his opinion that the State of Massachusetts has no jurisdiction and the tribes enjoy sovereign immunity. This decision shows once again, that rights guaranteed United States Citizens under the U.S. and State Constitutions are not enforceable on tribal lands.
Grand Rapids - According to an Associated Press report, tribal lawyers are optimistic about negotiations to settle a lawsuit brought by five tribes against the State of Michigan for commercial fishing rights. The case dates back to 1973 when the tribes initially sued pursuant to an 1836 treaty. The issue was temporarily settled in 1985 by a consent decree which expires in 2000. Sportsmen's groups are upset by the tribe's demand for commercial fishing and the use of gillnets which catch many non-targeted species.
Grand Portage - Keck Melby, a Lake Superior marina owner and operator has now "exhausted his remedy" in tribal court. Currently, Keck is waiting for a ruling from the tribal appellate court, but he is not expecting a favorable ruling there and plans an appeal to federal district court. The dispute is over who's zoning and building codes, the tribe's or the county's, are enforceable on private property that has not been part of an Indian reservation for about 100 years. Mr. Melby was forced to spend thousands of dollars to first make his defense before a suspect tribal court before being allowed to present his case in front of a Constitutionally legitimate federal court.
St. Croix Park - Non Indians will see a reduced number of special deer hunt permits in the park this fall as a result of tribal harvest declarations stemming from the 1837 Mille Lacs Treaty Case. The St. Croix Park permits were reduced from 650 to 490. The total number of antlerless deer permits taken across the 12 county treaty area by tribal members is 900.
Olympia - Local sportsmen fight to ban fishing nets in Washington State waters. This November Washington voters may get the chance to cast their ballot on whether or not all fishing nets, with the exception of reef nets, crab and shrimp pots, and herring dip-bag nets, should be illegal. It would also ban all commercial trolling. The measure does not address tribal treaty fishing rights.
Lac du Flambeau - According to the Wisconsin State Journal, citizens of northern Vilas County are worried what precedent may be set by a dispute over access to five private lake homes on French Lake which lies within the boundaries of the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. The tribal government claims that the owners have been trespassing on tribal property and threatened to close the road unless the property owners pay up. One owner has already settled for a 50 year lease costing $42,000, but the others are still negotiating. People in surrounding areas fear that access to dozens of other properties may be in jeopardy. According to the report, the issue signals a shift in power between the tribe and non-tribal property owners. For years everyone thought the road was a town road, and the property owners were even assessed $10,000 by the town, which also collected state aid for the road improvements. According to a local attorney, title companies are discussing the possibility of no longer issuing title insurance in the area. They are not going to issue policies if they can not guarantee access.