Mdewakanton band to exercise treaty claims
By Joe Albert Staff Writer
St. Paul – For the first time in more than 100 years, Mendota
Mdewakanton Dakota Community members netted in the place where they
believe they were placed on earth.
That place: The mouth of the Minnesota River, where it flows
into the Mississippi River within Fort Snelling State Park. The
net: One 200-foot gill net, placed last fall between the two
waterways on one side of Pike Island.
‘The first time we tried it, we didn’t have enough weight on the
net and we mostly caught garbage, in fact, that’s all we caught,’
said Jim Anderson, the tribe’s Cultural Committee chairman.
Despite the lack of success last fall, Anderson plans to do more
netting this spring, and set up a hunting camp after that. The goal
is to re-teach the art of fishing, hunting, and living off the
We want ‘To try to teach relatives and our young people how to
fish,’ Anderson said. ‘We want to expand that into hunting. Not to
deplete the resource, but just to show them and teach them how our
people used to live.’
A treaty signed in 1805 guarantees the Dakota people the right
to use the land, Anderson said.
The plan is to do more netting, as well as set up a hunting camp
with things like tepees and tables. There, people would learn
things like how to fillet a fish, and skin and butcher a deer,
State park officials haven’t objected to the tribe’s plans, and
officials are aware of what the tribe is doing, Anderson said.
Fort Snelling State Park officials didn’t return calls seeking
comment on Tuesday.
C.B. Bylander, DNR Outreach Section chief, said: ‘We are aware
of the situation with the 1805 Treaty, but if gill netting has
occurred, no one in the Fish and Wildlife Division or Enforcement
Division has witnessed it, nor has this activity ever been reported
‘If that changes in the future, we will react in appropriate
The tribe has no plans to use the area for commercial purposes
or production, Anderson said.
‘We didn’t even catch a fish the first time,’ he said. ‘We are
just looking to use them in ceremonial or educational ways.’