The Little Engine That Couldn't
In 1837 and 1842, the Ojibwe tribe of Northern Wisconsin reluctantly signed over land to the United States of America.However, in both respective treaties, the Ojibwe tribe managed to preserve certain rights for future generations, or so they thought.In these treaties, they "clearly reserved the right to hunt, fish, and gather on the land they ceded to the United States government."(Lowe 2001, 61).Nevertheless, over one hundred years later, these rights would be aggressively refuted by local citizens of Northern Wisconsin as well as by the State of Wisconsin.An intense debate concerning the rights of the Ojibwe to spearfish escalated between the Ojibwe, local citizens in Northern Wisconsin, and the State of Wisconsin.
The State of Wisconsin questioned treaties and the power of the state eradicating the Ojibwe tribe's right to fish in Northern Wisconsin.The controversy originated from the wording of the treaties that specified the Ojibwe's right to hunt and fish on "ceded lands."The State of Wisconsin felt that despite the treaties, it had the right to regulate fishing throughout state boundaries.The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began to put restrictions on these rights after 1854.In 1879, the Wisconsin State Court maintained state authority on reservations.In State v. Doxtater, the WSC affirmed that "Wisconsin possessed legal authority over tribal members who violated Wisconsin law on reservations." (Commentary, Issues Hoop: Target 1).Bythe late 1800s Wisconsin's forests, rivers, and lakes suffered from dumping of waste and pollutants, and the state's wildlife was disappearing.In response to the diminishing wildlife and natural resources, the state began enacting conservation laws which included regulating fishing and hunting.These regulations however angered Ojibwes when they stood in the way of their right…

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