Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

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First Nations people have been mistreated from European settlers and the United States Government for many years. The U.S. government moved the First Nations people off of their land and home to move them onto Indian Reservations. This was possible because of the treaties that the government made with the Indians. The Removal Act of 1830 also helped move the First Nations people off of their tribal lands. The government and settlers took away a special style of life and culture that the First Nations people based their lives off of. Hunting, fishing, and gathering were the First Nations people’s means of survival. And these treaties that not only moved them from their lands, but gave them protection for their rights to hunt, fish, and gather. These rights were soon to be ignored and the First Nations people were stripped from their rights. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission was created to help to represent these rights.

Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) are set up to represent the eleven Ojibwe tribes. These tribes are located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. “GLIFWC provides natural resource management expertise, conservation enforcement, legal and policy analysis, and public information services in support of the exercise of treaty rights during the well- regulated, off-reservation seasons throughout the treaty ceded territories”[1] This commission has two committees that help run the GLIFWC. Those two committees are the Voigt Intertribal Task Force and the Great Lakes Fisheries Committee. These two committees help guide the GLIFWC and their Board of Commissioners. GLIFWC has a multitude of topics that it is actively focused on. These topics also incorporate an Ojibwe perspective to it. GLIFWC has the focus points:

  • Affirming and implementing the rights
  • Climate Change
  • Enforcement
  • Environment
  • Forest Pests
  • Great Lakes Fishery
    • Report Ghost Net
      • Avoid the Trap
    • Report Tagged Fish
  • Inland Fishery
  • Inland Lakes Mercury Levels
  • Invasive Species
  • Language and Culture
    • Nenda-Gikendamang ningo-biboonagak
  • Mining
  • Wildlife
  • Wild Plants
  • Wild Rice (Manoomin)
    • Canoe Safety Survey
    • Manoomin Harvest Information [2]


The GLIFWC members work together to make sure that the fishing rights of its tribal members are preserved. These people work together to make sure that people who fish in the Great Lakes listen to the tribal codes that regulate the fishery. They monitor different fish in the Great Lakes. These fish include lake trout, whitefish, and lake herring. These fish are important to the people due to their low fat, protein, and they are plentiful to buy. According to the GLIFWC, “fish harvest monitoring occurs year-round in off-reservation fishing grounds of the 1842 Treaty ceded area within Michigan waters of Lake Superior where measuring length and weight and removing age structures from commercially harvested gigoon (fish) is a priority of the Great Lakes Section”. [3] More information from can be found about the different types of fish and also contain many different PDF files that show reports throughout past years.

The GLIFWC’s website also includes a very insightful PDF that explains the importance of fish. It explains the correct use of all of the fish and how to properly care for the fish. Fish contain a lot of key nutrients that are important to a person’s health. Fish have vitamins, minerals, thiamin, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, selenium, and copper. Fish also have certain fatty acids that can make a person less at risk for heart problems. They are also healthier to eat than other protein rich meats. [4] This link to the PDF file will further enhance the understanding of the importance of correctly taking care of the fish one catches. It talks about different ways to help keep the fish fresh as long as one can after they catch it. It also explains how to properly take care of it and cook the fish and the many different ways it can be done.


Treaty rights are very important to First Nations Peoples. First Nations People took them seriously in the fact that the settlers took their rights away and these treaties gave them back. There are different ways to describe treaty rights: “affirmed by court decisions, a usufructuary right, a tribal right not an individual right, and regulated through tribal codes”. [5] The GLIFWC’s member tribes signed the treaties in 1836, 1837, 1842, and 1854. These treaties were signed with the United States Government. These treaties stated that the tribes were to sell the Land to the US Government. The tribes reserved the right to hunt, fish, and gather in these territories. These territories were Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Ignored Rights

When Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin became states, trouble still persisted with the First Nations People. The rights that were secured in the Treaties were being ignored. The new states began to organize rules and regulations for their land. Regardless of the treaty rights, these states began to make the tribal members listen and participate in these regulations. People of these tribes, that continued their traditions, culture, ways of life were given tickets, taken to court, and fined. Tribal members also had their fishing and gathering materials taken away from them for exercising their rights.

Court Cases

  • 1972- Gurnoe Decision

This court case favored the Red Cliff and Bad River tribes. This protected their fishing rights in Lake Superior.

  • 1983- Voigt Decision

This court case was in favor of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band. Because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to listen to the appeal, the court case was further supported.

  • 1997- Mille Lacs Decision

This court case involved the Ojibwe tribe. This supported the 1937 Treaty Rights. This decision was called the Mille Lacs Decision and was supported by the 1999 US Supreme Court ruling.

  • 1994 there was a court case between Oneida and the Brown County Circuit Court. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources claimed that the Oneida people were illegally netting the fish in Duck Creek. The non-Oneidas were told that they were to listen to the state laws and regulations because that portion of the Duck Creek was on the old fort’s reservation. The judge in that particular case ruled “the Oneida indeed partially controlled the Creek; therefore Wisconsin could not regulate Oneida activities on their side of the creek, including fishing methods.” [6]


  1. “Boozhoo”, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, accessed April 25, 2015,
  2. “GLIFWC’s Focus Area”, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), accessed April 28, 2016,
  3. “Fish Harvest Monitoring”, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), accessed May 6, 2016,
  4. “Freshwater Fish Preservation”, Great Lakes Indian Fish and wildlife commission (GLIFWC), accessed May 6, 2016,
  5. “Treaty Rights Reserved”, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), accessed April 28, 2016,
  6. “Oneida Treaties and Treaty Rights”, Milwaukee Public Museum, accessed April 30, 2016,

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