1855 Treaty Authority “Fish-Off” Cut Short
A planned “fish-off” on Lake Bemidji was cut short today after the Department of Natural Resources intervened.
A group called the 1855 Treaty Authority had planned the Fish-Off for the day before the Minnesota State fishing opener as a demonstration to exercise treaty rights. Two men headed out onto Lake Bemidji and placed a fishing net in the water. The net was then confiscated by the DNR and the men were issued citations. The Treaty Authority says they are disappointed with the outcome of today’s event and say they plan to take the citations to court.
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr. says, “Unfortunately, the game wardens came and confiscated the nets – not acknowledging or recognizing the treaty rights. That’s the message we’d like to say today is we have a right. These are our inherent rights as tribal members it to hunt, gather and fish on the ceded territory land; to feed the families; to feed the children and the elders.”
This was not the first time for a Fish-Off before the fishing opener. A similar demonstration happened eight years ago in 2010.
The DNR issued a statement to Lakeland News about the incident on Lake Bemidji. The full statement reads:
“The DNR on Thursday received a press release announcing plans for an off-reservation fishing event on Friday, May 11 on Lake Bemidji. The event is being organized by the 1855 Treaty Authority, an association of treaty beneficiary members of the 1855 Treaty between the Chippewa Indians and the United States. As the agency has said in the past, the DNR position is that off-reservation harvest rights do not exist in the 1855 treaty area and that state laws will be upheld. Persons who violate state law will be subject to enforcement action that may include warnings, citations, seizure of fishing equipment, nets, and spears. DNR and tribal agencies have a long history of working together on resource issues and we will continue to communicate with the bands regarding our concerns with this planned event.”