First Nations United plan fishing protest on Upper Red Lake

A group of Minneapolis-based American Indians says they plan to break state law Friday afternoon by fishing on Upper Red Lake a day before the state walleye opener.

Members of First Nations United say they hope to get ticketed by state DNR enforcement officers to raise treaty rights issues in the courts.

Red Lake tribal officials, meanwhile, say they're not part of the effort and don't support it.

Event organizer Gary Spears said treaties between tribes and the federal government give tribal members the right to hunt and fish off reservation.

"Last year we observed at Lake Bemidji that Leech Lake and White Earth members utilizing their sovereign rights of 1855 treaty," Spears said. "And what came out of there was more to come and more to be done with treaty rights, that they'd be put to use and be utilized more often. So our group has taken up that opportunity to do that.

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen says officers will be on Upper Red Lake to enforce state law and ticket anyone who violates state game and fish laws.

"We will seize any equipment that we see used during a violation and again gather information about those who are breaking the law, and we'll refer that information to the local county attorneys for prosecution," Niskanen said..

DNR officers confiscated gill nets during last year's incident, but no one was ever charged.

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