Sault Tribe OKs inland hunting, fishing agreement with Michigan

By John Flesher
Traverse City, Michigan (AP) 10-07

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa said during October that its members have approved an agreement between five American Indian tribes and the state of Michigan over inland hunting and fishing rights.

The other four tribes have ratified the deal, which recognizes members’ rights to hunt, fish and gather plants in parts of western and northern Michigan covered by an 1836 treaty. The area includes about 37 percent of the state. Fishing in the Great Lakes is excluded because it was dealt with in earlier agreements.

The agreement, already endorsed by state and federal officials, also needs the approval of a federal judge who had scheduled a hearing, but canceled it in an order noting the successful outcome of the Sault Ste. Marie referendum.

The Sault tribe was the only tribe that submitted the tentative agreement, announced during September, to its full membership for a referendum.

In results posted on its Web site, the tribe said 3,476 voters favored the pact while 678 opposed it. Nearly 33 percent of the 12,734 members voted.

The proposal affects much of the western and northern Lower Peninsula and the eastern Upper Peninsula.

It empowers the tribes to issue their own hunting and fishing licenses and write their own regulations. Three already have rules and the other two will be developing them.

Many of the regulations will parallel state policies for protecting resources from overharvesting and abuse, limiting size, numbers and species taken. But the tribes will have longer deer hunting seasons and different policies on fishing methods such as spearing and netting.

The DNR is hosting a series of public meetings around the state to explain the agreement.

The other participating tribes include the Bay Mills Indian Community; the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians; the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.