Nick Coleman: Bigotry over Mille Lacs fishing
"Somebody tried to kill the Messenger last week. It didn't work.

The Mille Lacs Messenger is a weekly newspaper published in Isle, Minn., on the southeast shore of Lake Mille Lacs, a fertile area that seems to spawn conflict, especially if you are one of this state's walleye worshipers. The paper has a circulation of 5,000, and an online site ( visited by another 5,000 or more a month. Unless fish are in the news: Then readership rockets.

That's what happened in May, when the paper posted a video on its website showing fishermen from the nearby Mille Lacs Indian Reservation removing walleye from tribal gill nets and cleaning the fish for eating. Normal, legal and part of Ojibwe culture for centuries. But seeing it on YouTube made some walleye lovers angry, especially the bigots who posted vicious rants on the site. More than 18,000 visitors have seen the video, which amazes editor Brett Larson.

"I was stunned," Larson said Friday. "I thought we were beyond this racist stuff, but clearly we are not. You can oppose tribal netting and not be racist. But some of these people make everyone look like an idiot."

"Most of the comments were like, 'Indians don't do it [fish] our way -- our way is holy and theirs is horrible and we don't like it,' " says Larson.

But some were far worse."

Get the Story:
Nick Coleman: Tribal fishing video spawns bigotry, attack on news site (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 7/21)