Dakota Fishers To State: “Obey Your Own Damn Laws”

Dakota netting fish in Cedar Lake, Minneapolis


Video by Bill Sorem
Cedar Lake, Minneapolis, MN, 8:00 AM, May 13, 2011.
Treaties should be kept. Dakota Indian fishers today netted a date in court to make their point about broken treaties. This morning Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers confiscated fish the Dakota caught and cited them with breaking the law since the fishing season had not begun.

The sealed bag of fishy evidence that would make any angler proud was to be delivered to the Hennepin County Attorney.

The netting of fish the day before the opening of the Minnesota walleye season was a deliberate action by the Dakota people. Spokesman Chris Mato Nunpa, retired Southwest University Professor and Dakota Nation activist, said enforcing Minnesota fishing laws against the Dakota is a violation of the 1805 treaty between the Dakota and the U.S Government.

“Obey your own damn laws then”

Article 3 of that treaty says, ” The United States promises on their part to permit the Sioux to pass, repass, hunt or make other uses of said districts, as they formerly have done, without any other exception but his specified in the article first.”

“When some of the legislators say ‘we are a nation of laws’, my reaction is ‘well obey your own damn laws then’,” said Chris Mato Nunpa. “Obey the treaties which over 400 have been made and broken by the United States of America and private US American citizenry. Honor those treaties because its the supreme law of the land.”

The objective of today’s action is to get this issue into the court system for resolution. The DNR had been informed in advance and it was a non-violent demonstration said Chris Mato Nunpa

“This guy with the short hair said ‘there’ll be no violence or anything like that, but unless things change’ he said. And that’s when my daughter told him that ‘You guys are the ones with the guns, we don’t have any weapons.

It was very peaceful. A group of Dakota Indian fishers retrieved the net that had been set in the early hours of Friday the 13th and put the captured fish in a cooler. The DNR officers showed up, cited the state law violators and confiscated the fish as evidence.

More information about Chris Mato Nunpa.

Clyde Bellecourt, AIM (American Indian Movement) co-founder and long time Anishanabe activist was present to support the action. He recalled the struggles of the Ojibwe to secure fishing rights in Mille Lacs beginning in 1990.

Legislative summary.

Bellecourt biography.

In closing, Chris Mato Nunpa promised a hunting expedition later in the year in Fort Snelling, land that was also ceded to the Dakota in 1805.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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