Great Lakes pollution threatens Ojibwe treaty rights to fish

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Bennet Goldstein of Wisconsin Watch joined a fishing excursion in Lake Superior while reporting on the central role of fishing to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Ojibwe communities in the Upper Midwest.

States spent a century disregarding or rejecting treaty rights — fining or arresting tribal citizens who exercised them, Goldstein reports. A series of court rulings, starting in 1971, would affirm their reserved rights within territory ceded to the United States, including the right to fish on Lake Superior.
But pollution in the Great Lakes — including hazardous PFAS chemicals — encroaches on how Ojibwe communities exercise their treaty rights, scholars and environmental advocates told Goldstein.
Tribes aim to fill regulatory vacuums through their own regulation and input they share on cross-government committees. They may get support from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal that elevates consideration of treaty rights when states set water quality regulations. Originally published on February 24th, 2023.

Support Wisconsin Watch