Spear Fishing Rights in Wisconsin


This issue of Masinaigan is dedicated primarily to document the events of the 1989 Chippewa spring spearfishing season and those surrounding it. The season was unfortunately highlighted by scenes of racial hatred and harassment and dominated nightly by the necessary presence of numerous enforcement personnel to ensure the safety of Chippewa fishermen, families, and friends.

The scenes have created an ugly scar on the face of northern Wisconsin and even deeper scars within the hearts of both non-Indian and Indian people, as we shall see, particularly in the children.

The events of 1989 were predictable, in fact, were predicted. However, no one spoke up. Wisconsin more-or-less lay in wait through those last long months of the winter for the eruption to take place. Few spoke out or acted in order to prevent the anticipated demonstrations of violence and hate.

Actions have been tardy, last-minute endeavors which give the appearance of "doing something about the situation." Most of those actions have sought to punish the Chippewa because of the depravity of the harassers, a form of blaming the victim.

Already Wisconsin is trying to counteract the blemish. Headlines indicate the state is ready to leave spearing behind and predict a flourishing tourism sea-son. However, the wounds of spring should not be quickly and cosmetically hidden or they will never heal. They will only fester and reappear annually.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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