Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Ma’iingan ESA Delisting Sets Up Future Hunting Seasons

GLIFWC Member Tribes Disappointed with Recent Decision
By Bizhikiins Jennings Staff Writer, Mazina’igan, Biboon 2020

                     Images by Wildlife Science Center

As the country struggles through political and civil unrest, challenging all citizens to be a little more tolerant of one another, a silent and ancient relative, ma’iingan, stands at the tree line, watching everything unfold. Amid so much uncertainty, one thing has been made clear: people who desire to sport hunt and trap ma’iingan will get their way.
On October 29, 2020, Department of Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt announced that, “State and Tribal wildlife agency professionals will resume responsibility for sustainable management and protection of delisted gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations.” The statement said that the decision to delist ma’iingan from the Endangered Species Act list was based “solely on the best scientific and commercial data available.”
Many conservation organizations and inter-Tribal resource agencies have denounced the recent decision. Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) and its member Tribes have been staunch advocates for ma’iingan (wolf) protection for decades. The recent decision to delist ma’iingan comes as a disappointment to many GLIFWC member Tribes because it will inevitably result in a harvest season for wolves in the surrounding region.
GLIFWC Executive Administrator Michael J. Isham, Jr., condemned the recent decision: “GLIFWC member Tribes have made it clear to federal and state agencies that they are opposed to delisting ma’iingan and have advocated for high levels of protection of our relative. Furthermore, we remind the Department of the Interior that the trust responsibility to the Tribes in the realm of ma’iingan stewardship does not cease with delisting, but rather increases the need for their active involvement in protecting Tribal interests.”
Ojibwe traditional knowledge-holders and Elders have long since stressed the cultural significance of ma’iingan (wolf) and the brotherlike relationship that developed from the earliest days. Bad River Tribal Elder Joe Rose, Sr., in a Wisconsin Public Broadcasting documentary, speaks of the traditional story of ma’iingan and the prophecy that exists for Anishinaabeg. “At one point in our creation story original man and ma’iingan walked this earth together and they named everything in creation. They were then instructed to take separate paths, but to always remember that their fates would forever be intertwined.”
To hear more about the original story and relationship with ma’iingan, view the video below.

Ma’iingan: Brother Wolf – With insight from Ojibwe Elders, biologists and artist Rabbett Before Horses Strickland, this film captures enduring spiritual connections with Brother Wolf, the lasting bonds and responsibilities shared between native people and the wolf species, and the opportunities and challenges presented by the reintroduction and protection of the animals across reservation lands.

Watch the video here – 
Ojibwe epistemology also reiterates the significance of ma’iingan and the role it continues to play in traditional governance practices. Wolves are part of the doodem or “clan” identities that have traditionally ascribed leadership and responsibility across Ojibwe societies. The clan system has helped in creating a resiliency factor of Ojibwe communities in providing community organization, roles and inherent responsibilities. Ojibwe clans are often marked or symbolized by animal relatives in which wolves are considered a sacred clan animal.
Tribes have worked diligently over the last few decades to promote recovery of the wolf populations that used to be prominent throughout the Ceded Territories. In the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, wolves were hunted to extirpation in the State of Wisconsin. Diminished habitat and reduced resources also created difficult conditions for ma’iingan survival.
Considering the teachings of intertwined fates, a quick glance into the realm of Ojibwe history during the late 1800s to the mid-1900s conveys a very similar struggle. After the signing of treaties in the 1800s, Tribal land base was reduced to significantly smaller parcels known today as reservations. Furthermore, the federal government’s assimilatory policies and practices during this time period was considered a cultural genocide of sorts. In 1884, Tribal ceremonies considered to be “pagan” were outlawed.
The late 1800s and early 1900s were dark times for both ma’iingan and Anishinaabeg, yet both populations remained resilient through extreme adversity. In 1957, wolves were finally listed as a protected species, which ultimately took nearly 60 years for the population to rebound. Likewise, Anishinaabeg were able to withstand decades of cultural oppression until the passage of the Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The recovery of both ma’iingan and Ojibwe lifeway throughout the Ceded Territories is a tremendous example of ecological and cultural restoration that must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
History has explicitly and continually demonstrated that when traditional knowledge systems are ignored, rippling effects from these consequences can be felt far into the future. Tolerance seems to be at the epicenter of many current and historical issues faced in the United States. In this case: tolerance for each other, tolerance for other lifeways, and tolerance for ma’iingan.