Secretly negotiated proposed settlement with Mille Lacs was strongly opposed before PERM was created

After reading former MN DNR Commissioner Rod Sando’s editorial on Saturday July 15, Why the DNR is not Mille Lacs protesters’ enemy, I am surprised that he gives PERM credit for defeating his secretly negotiated proposed settlement with the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa.

That would have been quite an accomplishment, given that PERM was not formed until after ordinary business owners, residents, conservation groups (clubs), and concerned citizens discovered the “settlement” and testified before the Legislature to defeat his agreement. Sando likes to blame others for losing on a really bad deal.

If you want to know what his deal was about, start with the 49-page “Settlement Agreement Between The Mille Band Of Chippewa Indians and State Of Minnesota.” You can find it at under Recommended Reading (Left panel.)

A few lowlights to look for:

  1. Sando made the settlement with Mille Lacs Band only, when seven other tribes also signed the 1837 Treaty. Had the state of Minnesota agreed to this deal, a Federal Court very quickly would have multiplied the payout seven times over!
  2. The Settlement included a $10,000,000 payout over four years (just over $16,000,000 in today’s dollars.)
  3. The Settlement included a 6,000-acre exclusive Mille Lacs Chippewa treaty fishing zone border to be enforced by State of Minnesota. How many more acres would have been added if the other seven tribes asked the courts for equal treatment?
  4. Recognition of a long-since-disestablished 61,000-acre reservation, the boundaries of which would have put the communities of Isle, Wahkon, and most of Onamia, plus many landowners and businesses under tribal jurisdiction.
  5. The State would convey another 7,500 acres of land to the Mille Lacs Tribe, for which the State had to “acquire and present clear title.”
  6. Fish harvest would have begun spring of 1993 in the 6,000-acre exclusive zone, and throughout all of Mille Lacs Lake, by tribal members outside of any State laws.

These are some of the realities of this “good deal.” When it became apparent the deal was failing there was a mad scramble to change some parts, so there are some documents floating around with different numbers. (Take the time to read all 49 pages and you will discover other issues.) In the end it still failed.

Mainstream media ignored the troubling details of this mega-payout. Instead, they chose to brand Coach Bud Grant and those opposed to the settlement as RACIST for supporting the common folk, even though this document was the focal point of the legislative hearings.

After the settlement was defeated at the Legislature, landowners and affected counties were allowed in the lawsuit. It was at this point that PERM was formed to raise money and educate the public.

By Sando’s own admission in his editorial, his Minnesota DNR–at that time–recommended businesses that depend heavily on fishing should diversify. Did they know even then how much gillnetting during the spawn would affect walleye populations in this premier walleye destination?

I challenge the mainstream press to find jut one reporter to do a full and in-depth story on how we got to the point we re at now. Dig a little. Review the Indian Claims Commission payments to the Mille Lacs and other Chippewa bands. Also look at the 1837 Treaty itself, which references a revocation of temporary hunting and fishing privileges. Find documents at

Mr. Sando, PERM members didn’t specifically organize the recent Boat Rally protest on Mille Lacs. It was a spontaneous reaction to DNR co-management’s over-reach. PERM did however promote it because so many concerned, frustrated citizens were willing to put their boats on the water for a cause.

Look at all the media coverage the Boat Rally got, reaching you in Oregon, a fish and wildlife resarcher in Alaska, and even being reported in the Wall Street Journal. It shows the issue is real, and can’t be dismissed or swept under the rug.

Douglas J. Meyenburg, President, PERM