Wisconsin’s six Ojibwe tribal bands have declared their intent to spear 59,399 walleye this spring on off-reservation waters in the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin. That’s more than usual, although still within their treaty rights. “That effectively abrogated the longstanding agreement that he have had in place since 1997,” said Quinn Williams is with the DNR’s Bureau of Legal Services.
The decision drew a negative response from DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Although this is challenging, I believe that Secretary Stepp is firmly committed to continuing to develop the relationship she’s got with the Ojibwe in Wisconsin,” said Williams.
The tribal declarations mean greatly reduced walleye bag limits for non-tribal anglers. Governor Scott Walker is also optimistic of a way forward. “In the end, there will be a way to work out a balance here, I’m confident of that,” said Walker. “I meet every quarter with all the tribal leaders, and I’m assuming just as we’ve had a good way to work things out in the past, those sorts of frequent meetings will help us resolve this issue as well.”
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission Executive Director James Zorn released a statement regarding the spearing declarations.
“Wisconsin’s Ojibwe Tribes have declared their need for fish consistent with their responsibilities to help provide food for their communities. More and more tribal citizens are relying upon Mother Earth’s gifts as an integral part of a healthier diet and a holistic lifestyle enriched by cultural and spiritual pursuits.
These declarations are well within the Tribes’ rights affirmed in the Lac Courte Oreilles v. Wisconsin case, as well as within biological safeguards. Moreover, a large number of the tribal declarations are the same as or very close to previous years’ declarations.”