Native American tribe holding musky spearing tourney Saturday in Vilas County

2013-03-15T08:00:00Z Native American tribe holding musky spearing tourney Saturday in Vilas CountyBILL NOVAK |

A musky spearing tournament sponsored by a northern Wisconsin Native American tribe on Saturday is raising concerns from the Department of Natural Resources.

The Lac du Flambeau band of Lake Superior Chippewa will be using five Vilas County lakes for the spearing tournament, with tribal members allowed to spear an unlimited number of muskies when spearing through ice.

The DNR has requested that the Lac du Flambeau inform the state how many muskies are speared during the tournament, as a courtesy, according to a news release from the DNR.

"The DNR feels this data is necessary to examine any potential differences in harvest or effort rates with incentivized spearing harvest tournaments on these northern lakes," Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries bureau director, said in the release.

Posters advertising the "Honoring Our Treaty Rights" spearing tournament were displayed in Vilas County this week.

The poster advertises $6,500 in prizes, the lakes being used — Big Lake in Boulder Junction, Big St. Germain, Big Arbor Vitae and North and South Twin Lakes — and an awards ceremony Saturday afternoon in Lac du Flambeau.

The DNR said it's working with the Lac du Flambeau band so the public knows there will be holes cut in the ice on those five lakes.

Contestants must present Lac du Flambeau tribal identification to participate in the tournament.

"We want to be sure the spearing holes are clearly marked," said Karl Brooks, DNR deputy chief warden. "This is consistent with other spearing activities, and is meant to inform those who may not be expecting holes on the ice."

The rights to spear fish by the six Lake Superior Chippewa bands were upheld in court 30 years ago.

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(38) Comments

  1. Mattila
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    Mattila - March 17, 2013 3:14 pm
    It sure is pitiful to read all of the racist/redneck comments on this thread.
  2. bosco
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    bosco - March 17, 2013 10:43 am
    How is a spearing tournament a subsistant harvest? There is no ethics wwith this event. Indians could get work at the mine and it will bring more money to the casinos but the Indians are not looking for work. Why? the have special privileges, the have federal gov subsidies and they pay no tax income. Revist the Crabb decision.
  3. what justice
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    what justice - March 16, 2013 6:42 pm
    To borrow from ‘A Princess Bride’, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means…” A treaty is an agreement between sovereign nations. In the treaty between the Ojibwa and the United States, they retained rights on lands outside of their reservations. Even ordinary ‘property rights’ are very frequently divided; have you heard of ‘mineral rights’, for instance?

    The concepts are really not that difficult. But your phrase “until they would be required to leave” betrays your real bias: you just want the Native-Americans to disappear, either banished within the boundaries of reservations or subsumed by the European-American culture. That was not part of the treaty. Sorry.
  4. eziga
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    eziga - March 16, 2013 4:58 am
    It is time to revisit the Crabb decision which granted special rights to the early Asian immigrants. The treaty simply granted those who had just sold their lands to remain on them and hunt and fish until they would be required to leave. They were not given any special rights that others did not enjoy or use at the time regarding hunting and fishing.

    Any interpretation of this treaty which results in one group having special rights over another is flawed legal thinking and needs to be over turned.
  5. witness2012
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    witness2012 - March 15, 2013 11:16 pm
    LiF, tribal members have the rights of citizenship within their indigenous nations and those conferred on them by their indigenous governments. Those rights are backed up by the federal government and well-established case law.
  6. witness2012
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    witness2012 - March 15, 2013 11:13 pm
    B-man, Really? Negate the treaties in 1924?

    Does that mean the land and resources that the US government received from indigenous nations would be returned? That would be the logical conclusion if the US government would renege on its obligations under the treaties, right?

    History is a good teacher, but you're not hearing what it is teaching.
  7. pete
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    pete - March 15, 2013 9:27 pm
    no I can't imagine it. I wish you continued bountiful harvests.
  8. pete
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    pete - March 15, 2013 9:23 pm
    I'm sending out the bat signal for the ticked crow, the catty catbird, the madraven.....she should be all over these boards screaming...c'mon crazy crow, this is right up your alley. Maybe you should show up at a casino, bat guano crazy, screaming with a 10' spear in your hands.....just let me know which one so I can be there to meet you personally.
  9. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 8:29 pm
    Many white people support your rights. Thanks for the reminder on the history, particularly regarding the boarding schools.

  10. muskyBob
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    muskyBob - March 15, 2013 6:51 pm
    All of you must consider whose land it was many years ago. the Chippewa tribes lived in this region for hundreds of years before European contact. The United States basically forced the Chipola tried to sign a treaty relinquishing rights to all the timber. the Indians were ripped off essentially of millions if not billions of dollars. not only that the federal government decided to take the children and put them in boarding schools. would be in the children from there Needham families and cutting their hair and not allowing them to speak their traditional language. the boarding schools also decided to take all culture and heritage from the native people. because the federal government was so greedy and intended to take all the land and lakes anyways, it didn't mind writing a treaty that they probably thought would be broken anyways. most of the trees that were written from the federal government were broken. the native people of today are still recovering from the boarding school era. can any of you imagine someone coming to your house taking your kids and changing them from what they are now to something complely different. the government stole our language our heritage our culture our hair our land the waters the forest. the Chippewa of today still feel the lasting effects of the boarding school era. finding some type of identity is a huge struggle. the hunting and fishing grounds that were once such a huge part of our culture now has huge 1,000,000 dollar resorts in homes and businesses and non native people everywhere. the government and its people have nearly taken everything from the Chippewa and still continue to do so today. u sports fisherman want to cry about a few muskys. go right ahead, whether you like it or not I will continue to gather wild rice hunt whitetail deer, spear walleyes and muskies to put food in my home for my family. I am sorry you don't like me, I am pretty use to it by now
  11. B-Man
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    B-Man - March 15, 2013 4:59 pm
    The 1854 treaty outlawed the sale of alcohol on tribal lands. No more fire water at the casinos
  12. B-Man
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    B-Man - March 15, 2013 4:52 pm
    When the Indians were granted full citizenship in 1924, the sovereign nations should have been dissolved and the treaties negated. History is a good teacher
  13. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 4:45 pm
    Oops, 'walleye', I guess using a WSJ comment thread to organize a violent, racist protest won't fly for more than a couple of hours (a couple of hours? Really? who's editing in there?).

    You'll have to go back to your usual 'bigotsRus' website. You guys give fishermen a bad name.
  14. libertyisfree
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    libertyisfree - March 15, 2013 4:40 pm
    Indians running around the state with special privledges is absurd.
  15. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - March 15, 2013 3:55 pm
    "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

    Payback or not, this should have been a foreseeable consequence of the mining legislation. Of course the tribal council is also going to have to live by the same reality.
  16. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 2:37 pm

    I'll bet you are a nasty, skeevy little coward, too.
  17. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 1:57 pm
    Did you feel like they walked up to you and poked you right in the eye? At least they feed their people with what they take.

    However angry you might have been, I bet they feel worse about the wolf hunt.

    I don't like hammering musky populations any more than you do, but we should all figure out right now that this is going to get worse as long as mining and the wolf hunt move forward.
  18. Badger in Lexington
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    Badger in Lexington - March 15, 2013 1:37 pm
    This is almost as bad as when in 2005 while Ice fishing on a hidden gem of a walleye lake near boulder junction we spotted a giant 10 pt buck while we sat on the ice manning our tip ups. Then our group watches a truck pull up and cut the deer off on a logging rd just off the lake, the occupants proceed to shoot the buck w a riffle(it was early Jan) They threw the deer on the hood of the truck and proceeded to drive out on the ice only about 100 feet from where we were set up. Entire lake is completely empty but the set up right on top of us. We phoned the dnr and waited, while waiting we watched one native gut the deer on the ice while the other checked about 50 set lines pulling a sled and PILING up walleye! It was just disgusting. The warden got there and informed us they had tribal rights to take the deer and eyes. The over harvest frustrated the warden as much as us but he informed us there was no violation. after the truck left we counted 120 set lines left behind by the natives. The fishing on that lake was incredible for years but after that winter it's never been the same... But good for those Indians right...
  19. Badger in Lexington
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    Badger in Lexington - March 15, 2013 1:29 pm
    So much for Native Americans being protectors of the land. This is ridiculous, muskies are sitting ducks this time of year! What a joke. Just abusing the rights old time native Americans fought for to preserve an old way of life. it's almost as bad as the walleye spearing w million candle power spot lights, trident spears and power boats. I'm all for native American rights but not for slaughter of game or fish that help bring in money to northern communities that need fishing and hunting revenues. Even sport fishing tournaments require live wells and return fish after weigh ins, no need for live wells when using spears. Enough is enough, time to restrict the slaughter rights of the natives up north. Just disgusting!
  20. brownrecluse
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    brownrecluse - March 15, 2013 1:15 pm
    seems punitive by the Chippewa Nation to me. More sport than sustenance. Kinda lousy P/R for the Chippewa too. They must be taking P/R lessons from the State Legislature. What next..... bow and arrow competitions at a deer farm ???
  21. 196ski
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    196ski - March 15, 2013 12:16 pm
    How is this different than their deciding to hunt deer at night? Payback for the mining legislation. They were not "consulted" on the mining bill, what exactly is "consulted"?

    If this is okay then open up casinos to everyone, casinos certainly weren't in the treaties.
  22. cwilly
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    cwilly - March 15, 2013 11:44 am
    say what you say but why is there a cash prize. Traditional really? get a clue!
  23. midwis
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    midwis - March 15, 2013 11:41 am
    I am of the belief if it is good for one, it is good for all. If spearing Muskys is good for Native Americans, then it is good for all Wisconsinites. Open it up for all - and definitely include casinos too. When given the option to gamble in a Native American casino or a state run casino, I would without question gamble at the state run casino that could provide property tax relief (ie lottery) rather than a Musky spearing tribe casino. And I doubt you'd see Wisconsinites out spearing Muskys, even if they were allowed.
  24. pikerover
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    pikerover - March 15, 2013 11:38 am
    And the Right Wing does Ole??
  25. AbrahamLinksys
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    AbrahamLinksys - March 15, 2013 11:26 am
    Norwood, are you saying boycotting all casinos is a good or bad thing? I say that's a perfectly valid exercising of someone's rights. I personally have never visited a Wisconsin casino so I guess I've already boycotted them. If you wanted to not shop at Walmart I'd be ok with that too. If you went to the tournament lakes with a sign saying "spear an Indian, save a walleye" (which happened in '88) or something i'd say you were a bit racist, but i suppose it's valid, just one of those rights that shouldn't e exercised.

    But why are you personally upset with spear fishing? Do you think it's a bad thing they exercise this right? I think that's ridiculous. Besides, LdF is working with GLIFWC and the WI DNR to keep adequate Muskie levels, so it's not going to adversely affect ythat. Is that why everyone's concerns are? Or is it more like "that's not fair, I want to spear muskies too!"

    Just curious why there is so much gung-ho opposition ands specially since I haven't heard any real evidence of any negative consequences of spear fishing by LdF. Btw, there are 2000 members of LdF, only 500 something households. Not everyone will show up -- and y'know when non-natives have tournies (admittedly not in winter) they harvest quite a bit. A LOT more than a couple hundred people from LdF will take.

    Anyway GLIFWC and DNR work all right together, and if the DNR isn't concerned, you should not be either.
  26. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 11:23 am
    I largely agree, but the tribes are clearly the original aggrieved party here and they are suffering far more--even recently. Anyone who expects them not to lash out in the ways that are 'within their rights' is naive.
  27. what justice
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    what justice - March 15, 2013 11:19 am
    I’ll stipulate that I am an avid, ‘catch-and-release’ fisherman. I don’t chase muskies up north that much, but I completely support the trend in muskie fishing toward ‘catch-and-release’.

    Although I’ll grant that the right to spear is guaranteed by treaty, it seems likely—much more likely than walleye spearing, which is more a source of a food staple—that this activity is an expression of hostility on the part of the tribe. They may have been pursuing it for some time (I’ll take ‘Ole’s’ word), but recent actions by the state would seem to be sufficient motivation for them to increase the activity and/or expand it into areas that white fisherman value most greatly. Not only is the proposed mine in the Penokees a potentially existential threat to a neighboring tribe, but the wolf hunt is also an expression of extreme disregard for the beliefs of all native people in Wisconsin.

    In native myths, which are analogous to religion for us, wolves are held to be brothers to Native-Americans. It does not seem to be much of a stretch that faced with a hunt of animals they consider to be their own brothers by a group of people they see as overlapping with muskie fishermen, native groups might decide to target the most revered of all trophy muskie lakes with significant spearing activity.

    I don’t think it is particularly productive as a tactic, but it will likely bother people they see as attacking them in much more damaging ways—and I don’t blame them a bit.
  28. AbrahamLinksys
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    AbrahamLinksys - March 15, 2013 11:06 am
    Ole, the tribes ARE spearing their own waters. Their waters exist outside of the borders of their nation, as promised in the ceded territories treaties. If you don't like it, maybe we can get the tribes back to the table and iron out a different treaty, one that compensates the ojibwe for the billions of dollars of natural resources taken from the ceded territories without consent of the tribes, or one that explicitly states they can LIVE anywhere in the ceded territories by their own laws. That's the original ojibwe interpretation of hint fish and gather-- that settlers obtained access to timber on native lands and that natives ha the right to subsist/live off the land, which is why they wanted the hunt/fish/gather. The treAty said nothing about confining everyone to tiny plots of land.

    I understand that it's now 2013 an you may feel that the treaties are outdated and obsolete, but they're still on the books so to speak. so if you value the constitution, which regards treaties as the highest of laws, then you'll just have to deal. If you don't like our constitution, then you're in the wrong country, so you should consider somewhere that doesn't treat with indigenous peoples-- I hear North Korea is nice this time of year.
  29. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - March 15, 2013 11:00 am
    The rights exist, but exercising rights is not always correct. Others can exercise their rights too. Like boycotting all casinos until spearing stops for good... for instance.
  30. AbrahamLinksys
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    AbrahamLinksys - March 15, 2013 10:18 am
    excuse me iponder, but this is not "payback" for the mine. This is LdF exercising their right to fish in the ceded territories.

    Treaties might not mean much to you, but our constitution regards them as the highest law of the land so to speak.

    Also, it's the Bad River tribe who will be "paying back" for the non-consultation on the mining issue. You see, tribes have "treatment-as-a state" status when it comes to air an water quality on their sovereign lands. This means tribes get to set their own quality standards apart from the State or EPA.

    If the mine puts pollutants or waste into waters running through the reservation, or can't provide compelling evidence that they won't, the tribe can sue the company or state in federal court (I think they'd sue wisconsin for granting the permit but I'm not sure).

    Also, Ole, the "original" treaty claimed the rights to hunt, fish and gather. Didn't even have the word winter, so that really doesn't matter. When the rights to fish, as in spear fish, were affirmed 30 years ago, it was because of the treaty and the wording to hunt fish and gather (an we got the right to clearcut, mine and settle). Again, the tribes never "advised" anyone about winter Muskie fishing. The first of the treaties was before icefishing was Widely practiced, if It was at all.

    Anyway I've read the treaties-- you can too they're all online. If you have a different interpretation of any of the treaties please provide the name/year and I'll take a look but until then stop making up things like "well the tribes never said anything about ice fishing so they broke their agreement."

    That's not how treaties work.
  31. Ole in WI
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    Ole in WI - March 15, 2013 10:04 am
    This winter spearing and tournaments have been taking place for years, they are just now getting some press. Check for your facts before you spout your typical spew about Walker. But, liberals have never bother with facts anyway.
  32. Ole in WI
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    Ole in WI - March 15, 2013 10:01 am
    Also, the lakes they have chosen to speare are among the premier Musky waters in the Northwoods, especially North and South Twin lakes. One has to wonder, why aren't the tribes spearing their OWN tribal waters instead, like the Flambeau Flowage. Instead they choose to specifically spear some premier waters in the "ceded territory". Hmmm.
  33. Ole in WI
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    Ole in WI - March 15, 2013 9:54 am
    I would like add, North and South Twin lakes are considered some the best trophy Musky fishing lakes in the Northwoods, the other lakes are very high profile Musky lakes as well. A study done a few years back shows that anglers release well over 90% of all Muskies caught in the Northwoods, with spearing, there is no release option. I think it is no accident, the tribes are specifically targeting these very prized trophy Musky waters...and yet, they aren't holding the tournament on their own waters in the Flambeau flowage. Makes one wonder if there isn't an agenda here if they aren't even holding the tournament on their own tribal waters, but targeting prized waters in the "ceded territory"...
  34. iponder
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    iponder - March 15, 2013 9:52 am
    Wake up people. Do you really not understand what this is about? Remember the ceremonial Elk? Thus is payback time for the tribes who were not consulted on the mining issue. We have Scooter and the boys to thank for these games. And we are finally going to get some jobs. Attorneys. And guess who pays for those attorneys? Scooter's my way or the highway approach is costing this state money and jobs.
  35. Ole in WI
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    Ole in WI - March 15, 2013 9:47 am
    Here is the problem, the original treaty was based on the fact the tribes advised there was virtually NO winter spearing (Meaning, through the ice), so no official monitoring except every 5 years was required. We are now seeing, that Winter spearing is very significant, a deviation from the original treaty agreement, which in my mind, violates the agreement. Secondly, the native people like to talk about sacred and solemn traditions in this regard, but I don't recall large cash prizes being "traditional". The tribes have NO obligation to comply with the requests from the WI DNR, who has no jurisdiction over the "ceded terrorities". Only the Federal Governemnt has jurisdiction here, and they are ominously silent. The tribe is also under NO obligation to replace the fish taken through stocking, many of the economically important Musky populations in the northwoods are only maintained through stocking, funded by license dollars and Musky clubs, and tax dollars. Guess those MILLIONS they make from the Casino's aren't enough to pay for restocking the Muskies they harvest...
  36. Cheezer
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    Cheezer - March 15, 2013 9:32 am

    Ya mean they fight an environmentally safe mining operation that will provide hundreds of jobs then turn around a spear helpless game fish???????

    I'm beginning to lose my faith in "progressive" philosophy ! :-)
  37. cwilly
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    cwilly - March 15, 2013 9:05 am
    This will definetely bump the tourism sales in Vilas County, guess I wont be fishing in st germain this year. Thanks!
  38. madconservative
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    madconservative - March 15, 2013 8:54 am
    The "intent" of the treaties was to allow tournament spear fishing ? C'mon DNR.... how about a lawsuit based on principle? If this can be justified by the Tribes, then "intent " for the goose, is good for the gander.
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