SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced on Monday the intent to appeal a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney related to fishing rights.

On August 24, 2023, Judge Maloney issued his opinion approving the 2023 Great Lakes Decree, which would regulate all 1836 Treaty Tribes’ fishing rights for the next 24 years.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website related to the decree, it applies to the following:

  • The State of Michigan
  • The United States government
  • Five of Michigan’s tribal governments with rights reserved under the 1836 Treaty of Washington:
    • The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
    • The Bay Mills Indian Community
    • The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
    • The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
    • The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

The agreement will define for the next 24 years how the state, the federal government and the tribes will cooperatively allocate and manage the resources in the 1836 Treaty-ceded waters of the Great Lakes. The opinion and the order approving the 2023 Great Lakes Fishing Decree are available below.

In a release from the Sault Tribe, Chairman Lowes made the following comments.

“The Sault Tribe has been deeply disappointed in the court’s order which restricts our rights as a sovereign nation, affects the livelihood of our citizens, and limits the ability of our people to feed themselves,” said Sault Tribe Chairman Austin Lowes. “Our legal counsel has reached out to the other parties in this case to see if there was room for settlement outside the legal avenue of an appeal.  Unfortunately, those conversations proved to be in vain. The tribe has no choice now, but to pursue an appeal and fight for a better outcome for our citizens.”

Lowes went on to talk about the importance of fishing to the Sault Tribe, both culturally and economically.

“Our tribe would never take actions to harm the fishery. Our members represent the largest commercial fishing operation in Michigan, and we also represent the largest number of subsistence fishers among the tribes. That’s why the Sault Tribe Board of Directors is committed to protecting the treaty reserved fishing right for many generations to come and will take the necessary legal steps to do so.”

The tribe plans to file a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by the Oct. 23 deadline.

Read more in the link below about the Great Lakes Consent Decree

Great Lakes Consent Decree (