Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

GLIFWC & Law Enforcement Stress Safety During Fishing Season

Story and photo by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC)

Last spring, an incident involving gunfire on Little Saint Germain Lake in Vilas County put Tribal fishermen in danger and interfered with court-affirmed Treaty Rights. Going into the 2021 spearing season, GLIFWC wardens and an interagency network of law enforcement officers are planning to conduct patrols along Ceded Territory waterbodies where Tribal harvesters engage in fishing activity.

“If you hear or see anything that resembles harassment of Tribal harvesters, please call in a report to GLIFWC or your local County Sheriff’s Department,” according to GLIFWC Chief Conservation Enforcement Officer Adam McGeshick. “No family should have to fear for their safety while fishing.”

Ojibwe Tribes are entering their 37th consecutive spring spearing season of the modern era. Predictions from anti-Indian protesters in the late-80s that Tribal spearfishing would decimate fish populations and harm the tourist economy never materialized. Yet some residents still look for opportunities to harass and threaten Native people as they go about harvesting walleye and other species over the short two to three week season.

“We will not tolerate Tribal harvester harassment of any sort,” said GLIFWC Voigt Intertribal Task Force Chairman John Johnson, Sr. “The season is about cultural tradition and nutrition – an opportunity for Ojibwe people to feed their families. We call upon all of the communities in the Northwoods lake country to help be a part of the solution.”


Additionally, GLIFWC is encouraging Tribal harvesters to follow the Four Cs if encountering a harvesting harassment situation. The Four Cs stand for Create distance, Confirm your location, Call 911, and Check in with GLIFWC.

Through a collaborative management process, GLIFWC participates in fish population survey work throughout the year. Safe harvest numbers are established annually and both Tribal and state quotas are set for the respective harvest season. Each fish taken by Ojibwe spearers is documented by creel teams overseen by GLIFWC wardens. It’s an exacting monitoring system, unmatched by any other resource management agency in the three-state region.

GLIFWC would also like to encourage all harvesters this spring to continue to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines by maintaining a minimum six-foot buffer from other individuals, and by wearing personal protective equipment when in common areas. GLIFWC wishes all Tribal and non-Tribal harvesters a successful and safe spring.

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission is an intertribal organization comprised of 11 member Ojibwe bands, located in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. GLIFWC works with member bands to both manage and preserve off-reservation treaty reserved rights and resources. Please visit the GLIFWC website for more information.

Report harvester harassment using the non-emergency GLIFWC enforcement line by calling 715-685-2113.