Friday, October 10, 2014

Also in federal court Thursday: Win for tribal hunting rights

Wisconsin's Ojibwe bands won an affirmation Thursday of their treaty-protected rights to hunt as they choose on off-reservation lands ceded to the state - - a ruling that some may have missed with all the attention in media about voter ID.

Ironically, the ruling came from the Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals - - the same body whose approval of the state voter ID law was blocked also on Thursday by the US Supreme Court.

The ruling affirming treaty rights overturned a ban on night hunting by tribal members - - a move that could generate controversy in Northern Wisconsin and thus presents a leadership test for the divide-and-conquer Walker administration.

I'd also suggest that the ruling strengthens the Ojibwe treaty-based objection to the proposed GTac open-pit iron ore mine in the Bad River watershed, since the project would deforest and contaminate thousands of acres of woodlands and wetlands that support critical hunting, rice-growing and fishing.

If the federal court says the state cannot limit Ojibwe hunting practices in the ceded territory, how can state and federal agencies approve a mine that would prevent those same treaty-protected hunting and related food gathering practices from being exercised?

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