Ojibwe members protest Minn. wolf hunt

Bob Shimek
Environmental activist Bob Shimek was born and raised on the White Earth Indian Reservation. Shimek and other Ojibwe people oppose state plans to start a wolf hunting and trapping season this fall. Shimek says the Ojibwe have close cultural ties to wolves.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

A few Ojibwe tribal members spent part of the weekend protesting Minnesota's first managed wolf hunt, which began Saturday.

Tribal members on the White Earth Indian Reservation stood along highways in several tribal communities, carrying signs of protest.

Minnesota's Ojibwe reservations in northern Minnesota have put their tribal lands off-limits to wolf hunting. The White Earth band has declared all of its reservation a wolf sanctuary. But much of the land within the reservation is owned by the state or by non-Indians.

White Earth resident Bob Shimek said the wolf has great cultural significance for the Ojibwe, and tribal members will do what they have to to protect the animal.

"I have no doubt in my mind we're going to be involved with this one for years," Shimek said. "We're either going to end up in court or back in the Congress or the Legislature or something, because the issue isn't going to go away. I think people here in the reservation have their heels pretty well dug in on this."

Shimek said the state should recognize the band's sovereignty to protect wolves within its borders.

"But we know it's going to be a long struggle to get that recognized by the state of Minnesota," he said. "And so being out here, not only are we getting the word out, but it seems that there's a pretty amazing amount of support for our efforts."

By early Sunday afternoon, Minnesota hunters had killed 38 wolves.