White Earth Land Recovery Project

White Earth Land Recovery Project

Facilitating the recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Reservation

Ma’iingan (the Wolf) our Brother

December 22, 2012 | Comment

We see the wolf as a predictor of our future. And what happens to wolf happens to Anishinaabe…whether other people see it or not, the same will happen to them…”

-Joe Rose, Bad River Ojibwe Elder

The recent delisting of the wolf by the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been met with support by some major hunting groups and some northern politicians. The delisting of an endangered species in a region proposed for an aggressive minerals exploitation is convenient for mining corporations. Tribal governments across the board have opposed this, and the White Earth and Red Lake reservations have created wolf sanctuaries with the l854 Treaty Authority; the GLIFWC tribal leadership (Voight decision) in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan also opposes the delisting.

Maiingan_Rabbett_Strickland_sm-2Find more info at  Ma’iingan.org.

Here’s some of the story:

In the minds of state officials, wolves have moved from an endangered species to a target–delisting now means that a wolf can be moved into a hunting and trapping season, a somewhat ironic success story.

Arguing that the wolf populations have been restored adequately and now constitute a threat to the deer populations of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, legislation and regulations are underway to open a wolf season in the northern territory as early as the fall of 2012. In Minnesota, Representative David Dill of Crane Lake and Senator Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids have both introduced bills calling for wolf seasons. Their companion bills call for a wolf hunting season to begin no later than the first day of Minnesota’s firearms deer hunting season, or November 3rd of 2012. They propose a secondary wolf trapping season to begin on January 1st, 2013. Their target is to allow for the culling or killing of up to 400 wolves.

A similar bill is being proposed in Wisconsin–Senate Bill 411. In both cases, the strongest opposition to the wolf hunting and trapping seasons are the tribal communities, the Anishinaabeg:

“We understand wolves to be our educators, teaching us about hunting and working together in extended family units. Wolves exemplify perseverance, guardianship, intelligence, and wisdom. Moreover, in the Anishinaabe creation story, we are taught that Ma’iingan is a brother to the Original Man. The two traveled together throughout the earth naming everything. Once this task was completed, the Creator said that the two had to take separate paths, but indicated that whatever happened to one would happen to the other. Each would be feared, respected, and misunderstood by the people who would later join them on earth. Thus the health and survival of Anishinaabe people is tied to that of Ma’iingan. We can do no less than to fully support efforts to protect and promote acceptance and to ensure healthy and abundant populations of wolves–it is our future we are also considering…”

“This unique relationship with Ma’iingan brings with it unique responsibility. For the Anishinaabe, the cultural significance of wolves and the responsibility of the tribes to manage the wolf resource in Wisconsin in a culturally appropriate way cannot be overstated…”

-James Zorn, Executive Administrator of GLFWC

wolfprotestJohn Shimek and Tessa McLean lead a White Earth wolf hunt protest: November, 2012

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Administrator reminded the state of Wisconsin in his testimony, that “the State does not have unfettered discretion to exercise its management prerogatives to the detriment of the tribes’ reserved rights in ways that would be contrary to the requirements of the Lac Courte Orielles v. Wisconsin case…or the Voight decision…”

Wolves for the trophy hunt:

Mark Johnson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association is excited about the prospect of a wolf season during the deer season. He points out that “if deer hunters had the option to buy a tag (to take a wolf), that might even be a pretty marketable hunt.” On residents, Ken Soyring, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids notes, “Where else can you hunt a deer and get a chance at a wolf? I think that’s something people would drive for.” The math seems good to Johnson: one proposal is for the state to hold a lottery on wolf. If the season were held during firearms deer season, the state might sell as many as 75,000 to l00,000 licenses. “One hundred thousand licenses, even at $20 a piece…that’s $ 2 million that would come in,” said Sorying.

Interestingly enough, Minnesota is already in the business of killing or culling wolves, depending on how you look at it. The USDA, in coordination with the Minnesota DNR, killed and trapped 215 wolves last year. That program lost its federal funding, but it involved 19 DNR-trained private trappers. Frankly, that seems a bit more thoughtful than the state’s wolf plan. Senators Franken and Klobuchar are both seeking to have this funding restored.

The Anishinaabeg, however, remain on the other side of this debate. Joe Rose, an elder from Bad River Ojibwe Band and Professor Emeritus of Native American Studies at Northland College in Ashland Wisconsin, points out, “We don’t have stories like Little Red Riding Hood, or the Three Little Pigs, or the werewolves of Transylvania.”

There are some in the larger community who seem to understand this reality. A larger number of northerners have taken a stand in opposition to this exploitation– from the mines to the wolves–and continue to protect the wild rice. Former Minnesota State Representative Frank Moe now lives near Grand Marais, Minnesota, and seems to have a keen understanding of the relationship between the north and the mining companies. Moe represented the Anishinaabeg in the 2005-2007 legislative battle to oppose the genetic engineering of wild rice, meeting some success in terms of protection. Frank also continues an Anishinaabe tradition of caring for the closest relative of the wolf, the dog. Frank Moe drove a team of sled dogs from Grand Marais to the capital in St. Paul early this March. He delivered 12,500 petitions urging state and federal officials to deny any permits that would allow sulfide mining to occur in Minnesota. Moe, like many others, holds little credence in the environmental thinking of the mining corporations. “This has never been done safely anywhere else…But they say, ‘We’ve got it figured out. We’ll be fine.’ You know what? I don’t want to risk that for Minnesota’s crown jewels. We’re talking about Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyager National Park, and all the lakes and rivers and streams in northeastern Minnesota that are our lifeblood up there.”

White Earth Reservation 2012

The White Earth Reservation declares the land within its interior a wolf sanctuary.

White Earth Wolf Proclamation 2012