U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Idle No More Duluth is working with tribes to ban hunting gray wolves like these.

Idle No More Duluth Fights to Save Wolf, Ojibwes' Brother

Konnie LeMay
2/11/15

Idle No More Duluth, based in northern Minnesota, is using the recent federal court ruling that put the gray wolf back on the endangered species list to call for respect by non-Natives of hunting bans enacted on most Minnesota Ojibwe tribal lands.

The December ruling halted wolf hunts, which have taken place in at least six lower 48 states since the gray wolf was delisted from endangered species designation. Minnesota’s first wolf hunt was in 2012.

All of the Ojibwe tribal nations within Minnesota have outlawed hunting or trapping of wolves within their reservation boundaries. The snag, though, comes on reservations checkerboarded with non-Native ownership within reservation boundaries since the General Allotment Act of 1887. While virtually all lands within the Red Lake and Grand Portage reservations’ boundaries are held by the tribe or tribal members, others are like Leech Lake and White Earth, where 10 percent or less of lands within reservation boundaries are tribally held.

So although the tribes have banned wolf hunts within their reservations, the question arises over whether bans can be upheld on non-tribally-held parcels.

In the past, tribal leaders like the chairwomen of the Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have emphasized authority within the reservations. “Certainly we’ll be keeping a close eye on all of our borders,” Fond du Lac chairperson Karen Diver told Minnesota Public Radio before the 2012 hunt. “And we are asking non-band member hunters to respect the outer boundaries of the Fond du Lac reservation and not hunt within our borders.”

“In the Native American culture, the wolf is a sacred animal and part of our clan system also,” Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa Chairwoman Sandy Skinaway told Martha Fast Horse on her radio show in November, when the hunt was still active. “I believe the wolf is our relative … [it] is a clan animal.”

“Here in Minnesota, the major contention is the statewide wolf hunt prescribed by the state that refuses to acknowledge the territorial jurisdiction of the tribes and the importance of a healthy relationship between Ma’iingan (Wolf) and Anishinaabe,” Ojibwe elder Bob Shimek, Red Lake, wrote in a February 2014 essay, “The Wolf is My Brother! The Cultural, Spiritual and Historic Relationship Between the Ojibwe Anishinaabe and Ma’iingan of the Great Lakes.”

Although the hunt has been stopped for now, the issue will arise again. Congressional moves are already afoot to pass legislation overriding the court ruling. U.S. representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming are all involved in the effort. Idle No More Duluth’s initiative intends to lay the groundwork for respecting tribal boundaries and laws before such moves again change the laws.

“We are trying to normalize the idea of thinking about sovereignty,” said Reyna Crow with Idle No More Duluth. “This is all ceded territory. What could be more culturally significant than Ma’iingan? This is an opportunity to reaffirm that tribal sovereignty. If we introduced this now, we’re not asking for more than what the tribes have already asserted.”

Pages

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page