March 07, 2014

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will initiate spearing of walleye his spring in lakes within the 1854 ceded territory, which covers most of Northeastern Minnesota.

The initiative is, at this point, is likely to have low impact, and was described as being “pretty low-key.”

Testing the waters as it were.

The band’s right to hunt, fish, and gather in the 1854 treaty area was described as being “affirmed in the 1980s in federal court.” However, the DNR’s own website explains that a lawsuit by Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Bois Forte Bands ended with the bands entering into an agreement whereby 1) the state makes annual payments to each tribe, and 2) “the Bands establish their own regulations that apply to harvest by Band members. The Bands’ regulations restrict commercial harvest, big game seasons, spearing, netting, and other activities of concern to the State.”

The agreement acknowledged harvest rights by the payments involved, but that agreement “approved by the federal court, does not commit to a legal conclusion as to whether the 1854 Treaty harvest rights remain valid.”

A year later the Fond du Lac Band withdrew from that agreement. They continued with their own regulations including the restriction mentioned above. However, does not being a party to the agreement mean restrictions, such as spearing, no longer apply?

Start up of walleye spearing could test whether previously agreed to restrictions still apply. But that could only happen if anyone notices the “low key” testing of the waters.

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