Tribal council nixes fishing protest

Bemidji, Minnesota (AP) May 2010

Leech Lake and White Earth tribal leaders say they’re now planning diplomacy rather than a protest to assert fishing rights under treaties with the federal government.

Some Leech Lake legal officials had said members of the two Chippewa bands would fish illegally on Lake Bemidji a day before the opening of the state’s walleye season.

But top officials now say that was jumping the gun.

Leech Lake Chairman Arthur LaRose says his council understands the desire of members to exercise rights they say they still hold under an 1855 treaty, but the tribes need to negotiate with the state first.

White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor says tribes need to be careful to take on issues they can win, and they haven’t finished strategizing yet.