First Nations United: Red Lake members demonstrate for treaty rights
WASKISH -- Three Red Lake Nation members put their hooks and lines in eastern Upper Red Lake Friday one day prior to the Minnesota Fishing Opener.
The demonstration organized by the First Nations United Twin Cities organization was designed to underscore the treaty the band signed ceding territory, but guaranteeing the tribal members the right to fish, hunt and make other use of the land. The Red Lake Nation also claims the entirety of Red Lake, as they understood the treaty.
Several Minnesota Department of Natural Resources members gathered on the point where the Tamarac River flows into Red Lake, but as of 4 p.m. Friday, the conservation officers had not issued any citations.
Gary Spears, spokesperson for First Nations and one of the three men who canoed out in cold, drizzling weather to angle on Red Lake, said they didn't catch any fish.
The Big Bog Recreation Area Friday was full of campers getting their boats and tackle ready for fishing opener today. Spears said people watched the three men fishing, but no one said anything to them.
He said he and his companions pulled in to shore on Red Lake land on the Waskish side of the lake.
"We just rod-and-reeled," Spears said.
He added that the demonstration was partially successful.
"We wanted (DNR officers) to come out and confront," he said. "Write a ticket, and if we had to appear in court, they'd have to explain why nobody was ticketed in a year."
Spears was referring to the demonstration the day before the 2010 fishing opener when some Leech Lake Band members set nets against state law in Lake Bemidji.
He said on Friday that DNR boats were in their vicinity, and one followed them for about 45 minutes.
He said the next move will be to return to the Twin Cities and meet with the group that fished Friday in Cedar Lake.
During the fishing expedition, members of Leech Lake and Mille Lacs bands gathered at the Tamarac River bank. Spears said he and his Red Lake companions asked them to stay off the lake and provide support on shore.