Criminalization of the treaty right to fish: Response of the great lakes chippewa

Linda Robyn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Lands ceded to the U.S. government by the Chippewa in the Treaties of 1837 and 1842 guaranteed the continued privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering wild rice upon the lands, rivers, and lakes included in the territory area. Over time the government used the legal system to remove resources ceded to Indians while simultaneously attempting to use the legal system to criminalize long-standing behavior that was also guaranteed by treaties. As the government exercised its power over the Chippewa, treaty rights that promised the continuance of fishing, hunting, and gathering were severely eroded, thus criminalizing behavior that was previously protected by precedent. The political assault against Indian treaties began in 1973 when two Chippewa men were arrested for ice fishing on off-reservation waters. With this arrest, the knowledge and methods of hunting and fishing passed down from elders through the ages became criminalized, and the Chippewa were punished for continuing their traditions. This chapter outlines the Voigt decision reaffirming Chippewa treaty rights and the ensuing intense racial hostilities that pitted whites against Indians both in court and at the boat landings with the beginning of each new fishing season every spring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNative Americans and the Criminal Justice System
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical and Policy Directions
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781317255666
ISBN (Print)9781594511790
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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