1855 Ceded Territory potential lawsuit UPDATE
Defendant in Gull Lake netting case sentenced

Defendant James Warren Northrup faced charges following an August 2015 protest over 1855 Treaty harvest rights, a protest that involved illegal netting on Gull Lake. A September 12 ruling by the Court found defendant Northrup guilty on all four counts brought by Crow Wing County Attorney Donald Ryan.

A Crow Wing County District Court then filed a sentencing order on October 23, 2018, on the following counts:

On Count #1, taking fish with nets, Northrup was sentenced to one year in the Crow Wing County Jail. One year of that time was stayed for two years on the condition that the defendant remain law-abiding. He was also fined $50.

Count #2, netting fish without a license, was dropped as it was a lesser charge, again using nets, but specifying certain fish species.

On Count #3 lack of watercraft registration sticker, Northrup was fined $50.

On count #4, lack of personal flotation device, Northrup was fined $50.

Fines included an additional $75 for a criminal surcharge and $10 for the Law Library for a total of $235. Northrup has until October 12, 2020, to pay.

If the Court’s ruling is appealed as expected, the case may have far more consequences than the Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty case.

** The case applies to the entire 1855 ceded territory area (1,400+ square miles) including Brainerd lakes and most of northern Minnesota’s large lakes. It also includes a part of Mille Lacs, which then includes the entire lake based on the “contiguous waters” principle.

** The case is trying to establish that off-reservation hunting, fishing, gathering rights are actually determined by the Tribal Executive Committee, NOT the by the wording of any specific Treaty.

** The case’s biggest threat comes from the tribe’s addition of “property rights” to claimed treaty harvest rights. Recognizing property rights will have land-use management implications far beyond wildlife harvest. (See analysis of consequences here.)

PERM stands by all treaties with the tribes as they are written.