Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights

Lake Vermillion in Minnesota. Photo from Todd Madson / Wikipedia

Minnesota newspaper credits the Bois Forte Band with convincing the Fond du Lac Band to hold off on plans to net walleye on Lake Vermillion:
Lake Vermilion’s reputation as one of the state’s premier walleye lakes dodged a potential bullet this past week, thanks to the efforts of the Bois Forte Tribal Council.

As first reported by the Timberjay last Friday, Bois Forte officials met with members of the Fond du Lac Tribal Council on April 16 and urged them to reverse their plans to net walleye on Vermilion this year.

Bois Forte officials were clearly in the best position to make the case for reconsideration, and they had been pushing Fond du Lac to meet with them for months. In the end, their persistence and their persuasiveness paid off, much to the relief of everyone who benefits from the Lake Vermilion fishery.

Among other arguments, Bois Forte tribal officials appealed to Fond du Lac’s sense of fairness, noting that Lake Vermilion is a key resource for the Bois Forte, a relatively small band that does not currently exercise its 1854 treaty rights elsewhere in northeastern Minnesota. That means the rights of the band to net walleye is essentially limited to waters in the vicinity of the Vermilion Reservation, where the band has sustainably netted walleye in the spring, for centuries, without any significant issue or conflict with other lake users. During that time, Vermilion has consistently maintained one of the strongest walleye populations in the state. It’s been a boon for the Bois Forte, who benefit from a sustainable source of high-quality fish for band members, as well as the dollars that walleye anglers bring to Fortune Bay Resort Casino. It’s been a boon, as well, to the lake’s resort industry and area fishing guides, who profit from the lake’s productive fishery. And it’s certainly a boon to the tens of thousands of anglers who visit the area each year to ply Vermilion’s waters.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Fond du Lac reversal (The Timberjay 4/23)

Also Today:
Band decides against netting on Vermilion (The Mesabi Daily News 4/22)
Fond du Lac Band won't net or spear Lake Vermilion (AP 4/18)
Fond du Lac won't net on Vermilion this year (The Timberjay 4/17)
Fond du Lac Band won’t net walleyes on Lake Vermilion after all (The Duluth News Tribune 4/17)

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