Mike Tribble: Anishinaabe remembers beginning of battle for treaty rights

by Nick Vander Puy
Reserve, Wisconsin (LCOTV)

Back in early March 1974, two Wisconsin game wardens busted Mike and Fred Tribble from Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation for illegally spearfishing through the ice on Chief Lake in the ceded territory of Wisconsin. Land and lakes that once belonged to the Ojibwe.

Having taken a treaty history course from attorney Larry Leventhal at St. Scholastica College in Minnesota earlier that year, the Tribbles showed the wardens a copy of the 1837 Treaty. They were given citations any way.

After their citations, the Tribble brothers, now represented by attorneys from the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe, argued in federal court that they had the right to hunt, fish, and gather in the territory ceded to the United States in treaties signed in 1837, 1842, and 1854. That territory included lands in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The tribe's rights were eventually upheld by the federal court system in 1983 with the US Supreme Court affirming their rights in Mille Lacs v. Minnesota in 1999.

Now, twenty-five years later the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is commemorating co-management of natural resources in the ceded territory and part of their effort is to get the stories and experiences of those historic days down in writing. GLIFWC is planning several events during July to commemorate their establishment.

Mike Tribble remembers the day the wardens knocked on their spearing shack on Chief Lake.

"While we didn't get damages we got the US to at least honor the treaty."

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