Authorities have charged four American Indians with fishing and wild rice harvest violations during a protest last summer. Protesters planned to set up a court test of rights they claim exist in an 1855 treaty

The four were named in complaints filed Dec. 30 in Crow Wing County District Court. They have their first court appearances scheduled for Feb. 1 in Brainerd.

Their attorney Frank Bibeau, executive director of the 1855 Treaty Authority, said that the four, along with his group, are trying to force Minnesota to recognize expanded harvest rights in that treaty.

The state disagrees with the band’s claim that members have special off-reservation fishing, gathering and hunting rights on land ceded under an 1855 treaty.

Unlike the 1837 treaty, the 1855 treaty doesn’t explicitly say anything about off-reservation harvest rights. But Bibeau’s group contends the treaty, backed by case law and federal statutes, guarantees those rights anyway.

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