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Indians May Limit Rights for $10 Million

Associated Press

Leaders of Wisconsin’s smallest Chippewa band have recommended that members approve the state’s offer of $10 million in exchange for limiting tribal hunting and fishing rights.

The Chippewas’ exercise of treaty rights has been a source of controversy. Sport fishermen and other outdoorsmen argue that it is unfair for Indians to be allowed to use hunting and fishing methods that others may not, or to fish and hunt out of season. They argue also that the exercising of the group’s court-upheld food-gathering rights may harm or deplete natural resources.

Earl A. Charlton, attorney for the Sokaogon Chippewa, said the tribal council had unanimously adopted the final draft of an agreement with the state Justice Department and recommended that the community accept it.

A meeting on the settlement is scheduled for tonight and a referendum has been set for Jan. 14, council member Charles Ackley said.

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If the agreement is ratified, it must be approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson by Feb. 15, Charlton said.

He said the settlement calls for yearly payments of $1 million for 10 years and that 75% of the money would go toward economic development and the rest to medical and social programs.

The Sokaogon band would have to give up some rights, such as spearfishing for other than ceremonial purposes. Members would be allowed to spear no more than 100 fish each year, he said.

The band would also forfeit the right to cut timber on public land except for firewood, he said. The agreement could be extended for an additional 15 years at the option of both parties.


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