Behind Tribal Spearfishing Is A Long, Violent History Of Denied Treaty Rights

"HAYWARD, Wisc. — On a twilight so calm the red and white pines are reflected in the waters of northern Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage, John Baker plans to go spearfishing — a traditional Ojibwe method of harvesting walleye. But before he sets out, he detours his boat to land on a sandy shore, hops out and crosses the tree line, crunching through dead leaves. “This is my sanctuary,” he says, recalling childhood visits in his dad’s rowboat.

He points out divots in the earth — former graves, once behind a church, whose occupants have since been moved. But the burial sites of many Native people in the area were not. When a local power company created the Flowage by building the Winter Dam in the 1920s, it flooded and displaced the ancestral homelands of many Ojibwe.

“There were bodies floating out of the Flowage for years afterward,” said Patty Loew, a retired journalism professor who has written several books on the history of tribes and is a citizen of the Mashkiiziibii, also known as the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

Baker says that his grandmother has an old map with the names and home locations of many people who once lived there, and that she always told him to protect this place. “That’s what we are. We’re protectors of the land,” he said"

Melina Walling and John Locher report for the Associated Press July 9, 2024.


"As Climate Change Alters Lakes, Tribes And Conservationists Fight For The Future Of Spearfishing" (AP)

Source: AP, 07/10/2024