2016-12-01 / Opinion

Article About Impact on Deer Herd Only Gave Part of the Story


To the Editor:

After reading the article, “EUP Citizens Group Talks Tribal Hunting, Forest Access Closures, and Other Issues” in your November 10 issue, I’m left with many questions. Who are the Citizens Advisory Council? It says they are a group associated with the Department of Natural Resources. Are they really concerned about the deer herd? Or are they trying to add fuel to a fire already burning: resentment toward Native Americans exercising their treaty rights.

In recent years, I have discussed Indian hunting rights with many non-Indians. Here are a couple of the most common thoughts I hear from non-Indians: “The treaties were a long time ago” and “Why can they hunt with firearms?” or “Why don’t they fish by the methods they used to?”

From 1776 to 1799 there were 14 treaties, for instance the Treaty of Greenville 1795 between Native American tribes and the United States, which opened most of Ohio to white settlement. From 1800 to 1849, there were 21 treaties. Between 1722 and today, there are 214 treaties the United States has entered into.

According to the news article, Sault Tribe biologist Eric Clark provided information giving the impact of Indian hunting in the Eastern Upper Peninsula (Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties). Indian harvest in Luce County was 25, Mackinac 101, and Chippewa 128, totaling 254. Indians took 33% of the total deer taken in the EUP. Indians are allowed five deer tags, and non-Indians two. Indians only have a certain number of qualified tag holders, while the DNR has no limit of the number of tags they will issue to those who want to buy them. So I’m not understanding who has the greatest impact on the deer herd.

Speaking of impact I noticed the EUP CAC only mentioned one contributing factor in the dwindling deer herd – Indians. What about the mismanagement of the deer herd by the MDNR? What about winter kill - where are the figures on that? What about wolf predation? What about food source? What about the number of kill tags issued by the state?

The deer herd in the EUP has been very poor for several years. Why the concern now? Nowhere in the news article did I read a resolution by non-Indian (DNR or EUP CAC) to the dwindling deer herd. Nowhere in the news article did the DNR give any response or thoughts about the very poor EUP deer herd.

As a Sault Tribe member, I do have an opinion on what the tribe’s responsibilities are in this dwindling deer herd. Though not very popular with some tribal members, I do feel we should limit the amount of tags to three. Many other responsible tribal hunters feel the same as I, but feel that by limiting our number of tags we are giving back some of our “rights.” Not true. If at any time the herd were to recover, we could up our tags back to five.

And for a “true” history lesson, we are not “Indian.” Indian is a label given to the Anishinaabeg by Europeans when Columbus stumbled on the West Indies. Historians in recent years, trying to be politically correct, labeled us “Native Americans.” We are not Native Americans. The “Americas” is again another European label given to lands Anishinaabeg call “Turtle Island,” the lands where the Anishinabeg began. The true Anishinaabeg cultural teachings of Turtle Island are rich and many and not reflected in any non-Indian K-12 educational institutions I know of. Actually non-native educational institutions and historians have falsely recorded Anishinaabeg history from the time of Columbus.

Any responsible educated non-Indian should understand and truly believe what I have shared in this letter.

Now if the EUP CAC are open minded and really want to discuss the real issues of our wildlife and environment, they could start with extending a hand to all parties involved and get down to business.

Sixty-eight years I have been leaving a print in the north-woods, hunting, trapping and fishing what the Creator has let roam in those woods and waters, my father before that, his father before that, etc. Since the time of regulation I have never known of any individual outdoor men or women having a real say in how or who manages our resources. There lies a real problem. Incompetence and money can destroy anything.

Tony Grondin, Tribal Elder

St. Ignace

Return to top

Cheers to Tony for having an

Cheers to Tony for having an open mind on the deer herd. I have long professed the DNR using QDM techniques in managing the deer. My concern about the Native's impact on the deer herd is that I don't believe their data is correct. I don't believe that every deer taken by a Native is reported. Maybe another method to detemining the count would be to have another license issued after each kill. It would be up to the Tribe to decide if any fees would be charged. Gary "Pete" Heckman

Click here for digital edition
2016-12-01 digital edition