Column: White Earth leader prefers diplomacy on treaty
"Erma Vizenor is tribal chairwoman of the White Earth band of Chippewa, whose 48,000-acre reservation lies in northwest Minnesota. The reservation is home to 530 lakes and three river systems, in which the primary fish species are walleye, northern pike and largemouth bass.

In the interview below, Vizenor, 65, discusses the off-reservation treaty-rights fishing "show of solidarity" some members of the Leech Lake and White Earth bands had planned for May 14, the day before the state's walleye and northern pike seasons open.

Tribal leaders have since said they have not sanctioned such an event, and instead prefer diplomatic talks with the state over treaty rights the bands believe they reserved in an 1855 treaty.

Vizenor served six years on the tribal council before being elected twice as its chairwoman. She holds two master's degrees and a doctorate, the latter from Harvard, where she studied administration, planning and social policy.

Q Were you aware of the off-reservation treaty-rights protest planned for May 14 that made the news last week? Leech Lake tribal officials said the event would be a "show of solidarity" for hunting, fishing and gathering rights they say they and other Chippewa bands retained in an 1855 treaty with the federal government.

A I had heard about the May 14 event only through hearsay. I haven't been in discussion with anyone about it.

Q Was the protest, as some called it, ever discussed by the White Earth tribal council?

A No, not at all."

Get the Story:
Dennis Anderson: 'We, as Indians, are not going away' (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/25)
The back story to off-reservation treaty-rights fishing (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/25)

Another Opinion:
Pioneer Editorial: Treaty rights protest was ill-advised (The Bemidji Pioneer 4/25)

Also Today:
Petition aims to oust Erma Vizenor (The Detroit Lakes Tribune 4/24)

Related Stories:
Leech Lake Band won't take part in treaty rights protest (4/23)
Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota plans fishing rights protest (4/21)