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Powell, Patricia (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review: Wisconsin Indians
Volume 28, Number 2 (March 1982)

Deer, Robert E.; Addis, James T.
Resource management and treaty rights: conflict or cooperation?,   pp. 12-14


Page 13


Resource controversies
  Many of the Wisconsin Indian reser-
vations have large tracts of undeveloped
forest land and water frontage. Here, the
fish and game habitat is underutilized.
Here, the largest walleye and record
whitetail find a home. This "best" fishing
and hunting is much sought after by the
sportsman, but these reservations are not
playgrounds for the tourist, nor are they
wilderness frontiers awaiting exploita-
tion. These reservations are homes of the
tribes, representing their identity, their
security, and acting as a symbol of their
former greatness. Tribalism demands
protection of the homeland, and therein
lies the reason for conflict: tribes are de-
termined to assert and protect their re-
servation home against outsiders. This
stance leads to controversy, especially
when people don't know much about the
location and status of the reservations.
  One of the largest and best known In-
dian reservations in Wisconsin is that of
the Menominee Tribe, located just north-
west of Green Bay. Here, the tribe owns
over 230,000 acres of forest land, lake
and river frontage, and game habitat, a
priceless wilderness heritage. In the
southeast corner of the Menominee In-
dian reservation lies an artificial lake de-
velopment called "Lakes of the Men-
ominees." Here, several thousand non-
Indians have bought lake lots and are
building recreational homes. This project,
developed at a time when the tribal lead-
ership was trying to expand the tax base,
has become controversial. It represents,
in the minds of many tribal members, a
"selling out" of the Menominees' historic
homeland, something the tribe's ancestors
fought to preserve.
  Many questions in the "Lakes of the
Menominees" project are posed as state's
rights versus tribal rights. Who, for in-
stance, has exclusive authority over the
navigable waterways in the project-the
state or the tribe? The Wisconsin position
of exclusive state jurisdiction is countered
by the tribe's position of exclusive tribal
jurisdiction. Who has boating and fishing
license regulatory authority? Does the
tribe have authority over tribal members
and not over nonmembers? If so, in which
court, tribal, state or federal? Do Indian
treaty rights supercede state's rights?
These are tough questions which will take
many years to resolve.
  In spite of the complexity of these re-
source issues, the Menominee tribal
chairperson is taking a cooperative posi-
tion rather than a conflict-oriented one.
The tribe's goal is reacquisition of the
lake development project, and the chair-
person recently stated: "We would like
to live together and get along with the
Lakes of the Menominees' people, but we
intend to reacquire the lake property o er
the long term. We realize we'll have to
pay for it. It'll be done legally."
Lucille Chapman, Chairperson, Me n-
ominee Indian Tribe, Keshena, Wisconsin
Robert Gillis, President, Property Ov
ers Association, Keshena, Wisconsin
  The President of the Lakes of the Men-
ominees property owner's association is
equally cooperative: "We're becoming
more of a community every day and are
trying to work together in the best inter-
ests of all of the people in the commu-
nity."
A cooperative approach
  The problem with posing natural re-
source questions in a state's rights versus
tribal rights dichotomy is that it separates
and divides the people by polarizing the
views. A design for conflict is built in to
the interactive process. The settlement
process in resource controversies becomes
very difficult.
  A focus upon common cause or com-
mon interest, a search for mutual interest,
understanding, and respect, and rational
lines of communication can lead to a set-
tlement process which ultimately benefits
everyone. This approach was used in the
case of the Red Cliff Tribe and the Lake
Superior fishery. The tribe and the State
of Wisconsin (through the Department
of Natural Resources) negotiated for a
number of years on this matter. The basic
problem facing all users of the Lake Su-
perior fishery was depleted fish stocks.
The United States and Canada, in the
early fifties, decided as a matter of na-
tional policy to rehabilitate cooperatively
the fish stock, especially the lake trout
(see Lake Superior : A Case History of
the Lake and Its Fisheries, Technical
Report No. 19, Great Lakes Fishery
Commission, Ann Arbor, Michigan).
Central to this rehabilitation theme was
the concept of regulation; all users would
be controlled through various authorities.
Unfortunately, Indian tribes were not
given adequate consideration in the de-
velopment process; their treaty rights
were neither acknowledged nor recog-
nized as significant.
  Some tribes, through the protection
afforded by their treaty rights, are almost
immune from state regulatory efforts (see
State v. Gurnoe, 53 Wis. 2d 390 [1971],
and U.S. of America, et al., v. State of
Michigan, et al., 471 F Supp. 192 (W.D.
Mich. 1979). These court decisions have
severly limited state regulatory authority
and clarified tribal access to the fish re-
sources in Lake Superior. This still leaves
the question: who has the capability and
authority to manage the Lake Superior
fish stock?
  The answer to this tough management
question lies in a cooperative approach
which blends formerly competitive inter-
ests into a shared management authority.
Wisconsin Academy Review/March 1982/13


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