Treaty Rights

Treaties which give the Native Americans rights have been controversial. Fishing rights claimed by the Native Americans in the Great Lakes area have been disputed.


Chiarappa, Michael J. and Kristen M. Saylvian. Fish for All: An Oral History of Multiple Claims and Divided Sentiment on Lake Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2003.

Interview with the principal stakeholders of Lake Michigan fisheries- commercial fishers, sport fishers, Native Americans, and government.

Doherty, Robert. Disputed Waters: Native Americans and the Great Lakes Fishery. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.

Study of the struggle of the Chippewa and Ottawa Indians for traditional fishing rights on the Great Lakes.

McClurken, James M. Compiler. Fish in the Lakes, Wild Rice, and Game in Abundance: Testimony on Behalf of Mille Lacs Ojibwe Hunting and Fishing Rights. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2000.

Six reports for testimony in the case by James E. Cleland, Thomas Lud, John D. Nichols, Helen Tanner, and Bruce White.

Pittman, Philip. Don't Blame the Treaties: Native American Rights and the Michigan Treaties. West Bloomfield, MI: Altwerger and Mandel, 1992.

Fishing and treaty rights.

Williams, C. Herb and Walt Neubrech. Indian Treaties: American Nightmare. Seattle, WA: Outdoor Empire Publishing, 1976.

The authors take issue with the federal judges who have interpreted the language of Indian treaties in manners that diminish the continuing productivity of wildlife species. Includes Michigan


​Attorney General Backs MUCC in Indian Fishing Rights Case." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 30 (December 1976): 29.

Michigan’s Attorney General Frank J. Kelley has protested a federal judge’s refusal to allow the Michigan United Conservation Clubs to intervene in a major federal case involving Indian fishing rights.

Bails, Jack D. "Who Owns the Great Lakes?" Michigan Natural Resources 44 (May/June 1975): 4-9.

This article, by a staff member of the DNR, spells out some of the issues and background on fishing rights.

Buelow, Michael C. "Federal Judge Rules Resources to be Split Between State and Ojibway." News From Indian Country 4 (Early June 1990): 5.

A federal judge has ruled that "harvestable natural resources" should be split 50-50 between Chippewas and non-Indians.

Busiahn, Thomas R. "Biological Impact of the Chippewa Off-Reservation Treaty Harvest, 1983-1989." Northeast Indian Quarterly 8 (Spring 1991): 17-22.

Focuses on the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior.

Busiahn, Tom. "Co-Management: The Possibilities in Power-Sharing." News From Indian Country 4 (January 19, 1990): 19.

The Chippewa tribal governments have been seeking co-management of ceded territory resources for years. Re: Fishing Rights.

Clapper, Louis S. "Congress and the Indians." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 31 (April 1977): 26-27+.

Hunting and fishing rights issues.

"DNR Seeks Truce with Indians." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 28 (November 1974): 6.

The Natural Resources Commission voted to allow DNR staff members to work out a compromise which will permit Bay Mills Reservation Indians to commercially net in Whitefish Bay.

"Fishing Rights Truce." Michgan-Out-Of-Doors 39 (May 1985): 4-5.

Editorial about the truce.

"Fishing Rights Update." Indian Talk 3 (December 1975): 23-24.

Gardiner, Bill. "Indian Issue Clarified." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 24 (October 1971): 5.

After five months conservation officers have been instructed to rigidly enforce Michigan fishing, hunting and trapping regulations over all Michigan’s Indians, except those in the Keweenaw Bay area who are covered by the recently court-tested Treaty of 1854.

Gardiner, Bill. "MUCC Successful in Law Suit Over Indian Fishing Rights." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 26 (December 1972): 5.

A permanent injunction stopping Michigan Indians from unrestricted fishing in Michigan waters was granted November 10.

"Grand Traverse Fishing Plan has Officials Upset." News From Indian Country 10 (Mid September 1997): 22.

A plan by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa to allow fishermen to catch 90,000 pounds of salmon in Grand Traverse Bay has drawn fire from state game officials and sport fishermen.

"Indian Fishing Breeds Chaos." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 30 (January 1976): 25.

Confusion in the courts and chaos in law enforcement brought on by the controversy over Indian fishing rights are threatening the future of sport and commercial fishing in the Michigan waters of the Great Lakes.

"Indian Hunting: A Shocker." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 38 (October 1984): 4-5.

An editorial about the Keweenaw Bay Indian community hunting regulations.

"Indians Planning Appeals of Recent Court Decisions." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 24 (November 1971): 5.

The controversy over Indians and their commercial fishing rights apparently has died down. Indian players are now readying arguments for appeals to higher courts.

"Indians Planning Federal Suit Against Michigan." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 27 (January 1973): 9.

Michigan’s Chippewa Indian bands have announced their intention to sue the State of Michigan in federal court for unrestricted fishing and hunting rights.

"Indians Win Unlimited Fishing, Hunting Rights." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 24 (May 1971): 6.

In a decision of the Michigan Supreme Court, it was ruled that century-old treaties give Indians unrestricted fishing and hunting rights on land ceded to the government.

Lowe, Kenneth S. "Decision Waited in Indian Fishing Case." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 30 (April 1976): 2+.

A major decision affecting the course of conservation in the United States was awaited following oral arguments before the Michigan Supreme Court in a landmark case involving Indian fishing rights.

Lowe, Kenneth S. "Split Trail Ordered in Indian Fishing Case." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 30 (July 1976): 19.

A federal court case that is expected to have far-reaching consequences regarding Indian fishing rights has been ordered tried in two halves.

"Lujan Rejects Michigan Fishing Restrictions." News From Indian Country 4 (January 19, 1990): 11.

United States Secretary of the Interior Manual Lujan rejected Governor Blanchard’s appeal for federal limits on Indian fishing in the western end of Lake Superior.

Mainville, Frank. "Nine Indian Netters Sue DNR for False Arrest." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (May 1975): 14.

During the night of November 10, 1974 Conservation officers arrested nine Bay Mills Indians as they came ashore with gill-netted lake trout. When the Indians were arraigned all pleaded not guilty – claiming immunity from the law as beneficiaries of the Treaty of Washington of 1836.

Mainville, Frank. "While Court Ponders Indian Fishing Rights, Hunting Rights May be Tested." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (April 1975): 22-23.

While the Michigan Supreme Court ponders the question of unrestricted commercial fishing rights on Great Lakes waters adjoining lands their ancestors ceded in treaties, modern Indians are believed to be taking aim at whitetail deer on public lands.

"Marina Owner Closes Dock to Indians, Omena, Michigan." News From Indian Country 4 (Mid June 1990): 2.

A mariner owner angry that Indians still use gill nets to fish in Lake Michigan has closed his dock to the boats that are owned by treaty fishers.

"Michigan Indians Extending Disputed Fishing Activities." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (November 1975): 40.

Michigan Indians are extending their disputed commercial fishing operations beyond reservation waters on the premise that they have fishing rights in all waters north of Grand Haven.

"MUCC Going to Court on Indian Issue." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 24 (August 1971): 5.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs announced that it would go to court to protect Michigan’s natural resources from exploitation by Michigan Indians.

"MUCC Joins Indian Fishing Rights Case." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (June 1975): 5.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs filed a motion to enter the Indian rights case that will be hard by the Michigan Supreme Court in the fall.

MUCC Seeks to Enter Indian Fishing Case." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (October 1975): 37.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is seeking to intervene in an Indian rights case filed in the United States Court to determine whether certain Chippewas and Ottawas may fish without restraint in Great Lakes waters.

"MUCC Urges Action on Indians vs Sportsmen." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 24 (July 1971): 11.

Warning that confrontations between Indians and sport fishermen may get completely out of control, Michigan United Conservation Clubs have asked the Department of Natural Resources to seek further clarification of a recent State Supreme Court decision.

"MUCC Warning Unheeded." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 28 (November 1974): 7.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs urged the Commission to refer proposed fishing concessions to the Attorney-General’s office for study and recommendations so future court cases would not be jeopardized.

Neff, Mort. "The Indians, the Courts and the Congress." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 31 (July 1977): 14-16.

Congressional representatives should bestow hunting and fishing privileges equally among all people without discrimination and preserve special benefits for Indians on their reservations only.

Reprinted from the Traverse City Record Eagle an attack on treaties and Neganigijig’s response.

Peterson, Kenneth. "Indian Fishing Peace Pipe?" Michigan Sportsman 10 (January/February 1985): 34-36.

A temporary commercial fishing pact with Michigan Indians that went into effect in August raised the prospect that a controversy over Indian fishing almost 20 years old could be headed for a settlement.

Sheppard, Glen. "Indians Expand Fishing Claims." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 29 (December 1975): 17.

About half of Michigan’s Great Lakes waters, and possibly most of its inland waters, will be managed for Indian fishing if the federal government wins a new lawsuit it has started on behalf of Michigan Indians.

"Unique Counter Suit Filed by Indians." Indian Talk 2 (May 1975): 21.

Suit charges their treaty guaranteed rights to fish were violated.

Washington, Thomas L. "Reflections on the Indian Fishing Pact." Michigan-Out-Of-Doors 39 (June 1985): 52-55.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs signer of the pact believes the group is better off with the agreement than without it.

"Wildlife Federation Seeks to Terminate Indians Treaty Rights." Indian Talk 2 (April 1975): 11-14.

Williams, Herb C. "Chaos in Michigan." Michigan Sportsman 2 (May/June 1977): 11-13+.

Brings together the history, the legal cases, the cultural beliefs and background over Indian claims to hunting and fishing rights. Originally appeared in the book American Nightmare.​


Cederberg, Alfred. Papers.

Cederberg was a member of the House of Representatives. Michigan Indians Fishing Rights and Legal Issues is one topic in this collection.

Griffin, Robert. Papers.

Senator Griffin's papers include "Fishing Rights" Box 195 and "Limitation of Indian Hunting and Fishing Rights" Box 248.