Michael McNally: Ojibwe treaty protected fishing and gathering


Harvey and Morningstar GoodSky were cited for exercising their treaty rights in an off-reservation area of Minnesota. Photo from 1855 Treaty Authority

Professor and author Michael McNally reflects on the importance of an 1855 treaty that protects off-reservation fishing and wild rice gathering for the Ojibwe people in Minnesota:
The recent assertion by Ojibwe community members of rights under the Treaty of 1855 to gather wild rice and fish on ceded lands at Gull Lake and Hole in the Day hit close to home for me. I grew up fishing Gull Lake from a family summer home on it and remember as a kid catching a big northern pike trolling the same bar where two Ojibwe men set a gill net.

It also hits close to home because, as a researcher, I’ve come to learn of the remarkably deep continued relationship that many Ojibwe people have with Gull Lake and its environs. I’ve also come to learn of how Minnesota’s economic viability has been intertwined with U.S. violations of the 1855 treaty. In addition to the likely strength of the Ojibwe legal case, this is important context to the events of last week.

In the Treaty of 1855, by which the U.S. gained title to much of northern Minnesota, Ojibwe leaders reserved rights to homelands at Gull Lake, hence the terminology of a “reservation.” Under pressure in light of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war, Ojibwe leaders in 1864 ceded lands on the Gull Lake Reservation and elsewhere. The Gull Lake community moved temporarily to Crow Wing, and later reluctantly made its own way to the newly created White Earth reservation in 1868.

Get the Story:
Michael McNally: Indian Fishing and Wild Rice Harvesting, in Context (Indian Country Today 9/10)

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Frank Bibeau: Ojibwe people assert treaty rights in Minnesota (9/2)
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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