Marc Slonim: Ojibwe treaty rights protect tradition

by Nick Vander Puy

Reserve, Wisconsin (IndianCountryTV) 

Everything was at stake when attorney Marc Slonim, back in the late nineteen nineties, argued for the Ojibwe tribes before the US Supreme Court, affirming hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. 

For millenia Anishinaabe hunted, fished, and gathered to support their families, but after statehood the states illegally enforced regulations against the tribes.

In a close 5-4 decision, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor casting the swing vote, the Justices became convinced, the importance of the rights to the Ojibwe for culture and spirituality.

Slonim also thinks treaty rights are extremely useful as part of the arsenal for defending Anishinaabe homelands against mercury contamination from coal plants and the destruction of habitat.

Treaty rights, in other words, are useful to all people.

"The Supremes came to understand the fight wasn't between sportsmen and the tribes over fish, but about protecting tradition."


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