Honoring Nations All-Stars Profile: The Red Lake Walleye Recovery Program


In 1997, the members of the Red Lake Fisheries Association (RLFA), a cooperative established by com-mercial fishermen from the Red Lake Nation,1 voted to discontinue all commercial gillnet fishing on Red Lake for the upcoming season. An overwhelming majority of the RLFA’s members supported the decision, despite its direct impact on their livelihoods. Less than a year later, the Red Lake Tribal Council passed a resolution banning hook-and-line subsistence fishing for walleye, effectively ending all fishing on tribal waters. Hundreds of families lost income from the demise of commercial walleye fishing, and with the overall fishing ban, every tribal citizen lost access to a significant food source. But witnessing firsthand the stark decline of the walleye and recognizing that a vital cultural and economic resource was slipping away, the Red Lake Nation had taken a stand: it needed to do everything it could to save the walleye and make its iconic lake healthy again.

Resource Type

Dolan, Jamie; Ian Record; Miriam Jorgensen; and Eileen Briggs. "Honoring Nations All-Stars Profile: The Red Lake Walleye Recovery Program". Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2013.

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Red Lake Chippewa Natural Resources Director Allen Pemberton provides an overview of the Honoring Nations award-winning Red Lake Walleye Recovery Project, and illustrates how the program reflects the benefits of Native nations taking over control of their own affairs from the federal government.

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