Defending Treaty Fishing Rights (Again); Augsburg Native Film Series; Buy Native/Think Local Campaign

Treaties — and their implications for Native American hunting and fishing rights — are always a contentious topic. Many people are unaware of treaty language, or chose to ignore it when they clash with their business interests. The latest flare up centers on Ojibwe fishing rights on Lake Mille Lacs and its dwindling walleye population.

In spite of a U.S. Supreme Court decision which holds the Mille Lacs bands hunting and fishing rights, the state of Minnesota set up a process that guaranteed the band would have a weakened voice in the debate over fishing limits.

Last year, the state created a 17-member panel to advise the state on walleye fishing on Mille Lacs. There was a single tribal representative on that panel: Jamie Edwards, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s director of government affairs. Edwards just resigned by letter, according to a story in Minnesota Public Radio. He sited the committee’s disrespect for tribal sovereignty.

The Edwards resignation letter said that the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee, “had devolved into anti-science, anti-treaty-rights forum subsidized by state resources.” It continued:

To say that I am a minority on this committee is an understatement. Rather than representing a diversity of interests and perspectives, the overwhelming majority of [committee] members are persons who own businesses dependent upon walleye fishing. [The committee] does not include conservationists, owners of businesses dependent on other species of fish, representatives of other types of businesses or any of the other myriad stakeholders of Mille Lacs fisheries.

At issue are the rights established under the 1837 treaty between the United States and several tribes, including the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. According to the Band’s website:

In 1837, even before Minnesota was a state, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and several other tribes signed a treaty that ceded – or sold – land to the United States government. The tribes signed the Treaty of 1837 on the condition that they would still have the right to hunt, fish and gather in the ceded territory. …

The state of Minnesota challenged the Ojibwe hunting and fishing rights in the 1990s. The matter went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the Mille Lacs Band:

On March 24, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Treaty of 1837, saying that Mille Lacs Band members and members of the other tribes that signed the treaty can hunt, fish and gather on the ceded land under tribal regulations.

For details, click on the Mille Lacs Band and MPR story links. Here is a link to the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which concludes: “The Chippewa retain the usufructuary rights (the right to use or enjoy) guaranteed to them by the 1837 Treaty.”

Augsburg Native American Film Series Nov. 2: Multi-media Narratives of American Indian Culture in the Heart of Los Angeles

Next up in the Augsburg Native American Film Series features an evening with documentary filmmaker and multi-media artist Pamela J. Peters (Navajo).

The event is free and open to the public. It is Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Augsburg College’s Sateren Auditorium, Music Hall, 715 22nd Ave South. There is a reception from 6:15-6:45 p.m. and the screening begins at 7:00 p.m. A discussion with the filmmakers follows

According to the announcement: The evening will feature Peter’s latest film: Legacy of Exiled NDNZ. This work explores the history of American Indians living in Los Angeles and commemorates the legacy of the Indian Relocation program, a U.S. federal program enacted to assimilate American Indians in the 1950s.

Pamela’s work stands against prevalent stereotypes of American Indians in popular culture by pushing viewers to critically analyze the psychological and historical structures of Native American in mass media.

Launching a Buy Native – Think Local campaign 

A release from the Minnesota Indian Business Alliance announced that the state is starting a statewide Buy Native – Think Local campaign and are looking for interested workgroup members.

According to the announcement:

American Indian-owned small businesses are critical to building vital tribal economies and reservation economic multipliers.  For American Indian entrepreneurs and artisans to compete, it is important to unite with other American Indian-owned businesses, artisans, tribal governments, tribal enterprises, tribal institutions, native nonprofits, citizens and community organizations to build a statewide Buy Native – Think Local campaign.

The initial workgroup will meet monthly to build an educational campaign, materials and presentations that will be launched throughout the upcoming year; this will include branding and native centric messaging.

Those interested in being part of this work group should contact Pamela at 218-850-8364 or email.

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