Analysis: How the Anishinabe fought and won their treaty rights
"In spring of 1986 I got a call from Walter Bresette, a Red Cliff Anishinabe (aka Anishinabeg, Ojibwa, Ojibwe, Chippewa) native American. Walter was a treaty rights leader for the 13 bands of Lake Superior Ojibwa and he said to me:

“Get a van full of people and meet me at Butternut Lake as fast as you can. We’ve got hundreds of whites swarming our fishers. They are attacking in boats and with wrist-rockets from the woods along the shore. Hurry.”

I quickly rounded up several hardy peace and justice folks and we headed south from the shores of Gitchii Guumii (Lake Superior) to meet Walter at what would become known as the Battle of Butternut Lake. Native treaty rights activists, their Native supporters and non-Native supporters were virtually 100 percent nonviolent, but we did join treaty rights opponents in battle. It was the opening skirmish in what would become several years of treaty rights wars – a war conducted with nonviolence on one side.

In the end, the bands of native Americans won, flat-out. Not only were treaty rights totally affirmed, they went from being bemoaned and denigrated by officials to championed and celebrated by many of the same government employees who had bitterly opposed those rights in the beginning.

At one point during the campaign, American Indian Movement (AIM) activists came north from Minneapolis to the boat landings just 60 miles away in Wisconsin. They were physically intimidating and in fact shoved one anti-treaty rights demonstrator over a police barricade, breaking the fellow’s arm. The Anishinabe leadership met with AIM and said, “Please don’t come back until you can do this the Anishinabe way.” AIM went back to Minneapolis and, when they came north again, to the Mole Lake area, they were dignified and nonviolent.

That the treaty rights struggle for the Lake Superior Ojibwe was waged with nonviolent methods doesn’t mean that it was waged using the actual word ‘nonviolence.’ I rarely heard that word, especially from the Anishinabe side. But the practice was perfect. It was not Gandhian nonviolence; it was Anishinabe nonviolence."

Get the Story:
Tom H Hastings: The Anishinabe and an Unsung Nonviolent Victory in Late 20th-Century Wisconsin (openDemocracy 11/16)