Environment | Law | Opinion

Frank Bibeau: Ojibwe people assert treaty rights in Minnesota

Tribal members gathered wild rice at Hole In the Day Lake in Minnesota as an exercise of their treaty rights. Photo from Facebook / Honor the Earth

Frank Bibeau, an attorney for Honor the Earth explains how Ojibwe tribal members in Minnesota are asserting their rights under an 1855 treaty:
Minnesota’s jurisdiction was challenged on two fronts by the White Earth Reservation, Honor the Earth and the 1855 Treaty Authority last week.

On Aug. 24, Honor the Earth and White Earth Reservation filed motions for reconsideration with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) continuing to assert treaty rights to a clean environment and Minnesota’s lack of complete and unilateral jurisdiction to grant eminent domain to a foreign corporation across Minnesota’s pristine wild rice lakes, rivers and aquifers.

White Earth argued the PUC actions are “unlawful.” Friends of the Headwaters and Carlton County Land Stewards also filed for reconsideration raising additional environmental concerns.

Later in the week, the 1855 Treaty Authority announced an en masse harvesting of wild rice for Aug. 27 on Hole in the Day Lake near Nisswa without state licenses. Hole in the Day is one of the Chippewa chiefs who signed treaties and resided at Gull Lake.

Early Thursday morning, Chief DNR Conservation Enforcement Officer Ken Soring arrived at the landing and presented a one-day ceremonial permit for the 1855 tribal rice harvesters to harvest without a state license.

“The DNR tried to give us permission for a one-day harvest, which our treaty rights retained for us long ago before there was a state,” said Archie LaRose, chairman for the 1855 Treaty Authority. “Our goal is to make sure Minnesota understands and recognizes our Chippewa usufructuary, retained and treaty rights throughout the territories north of I-94. We will be back tomorrow.”

Get the Story:
Frank Bibeau: Chippewa use treaty rights to protect Minnesota’s natural resources as the PUC grants eminent domain to Enbridge’s Sandpiper crude oil pipeline (The Walker Pilot-Independent 9/2)

Another Opinion:
Editorial: Treaty dispute appears headed to court (The St. Cloud Times 9/2)

Also Today:
Demonstration leads to citations (The Pineandlakes Echo Journal 9/2)

Related Stories:
Young tribal members cited for wild rice harvest in Minnesota (9/1)
Tribal members in Minnesota assert treaty right to gather wild rice (8/28)

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