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Points North, Ep. 15: Harassed Native harvesters

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Shelly McSawby
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Shelly McSawby of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians was bowfishing when a couple of men questioned whether she could legally do so. She tried to tell them she could, but then they called the DNR on her.

This week on Points North, Native American tribes have treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather, but many face racism and harassment when they use them. Plus hear some pet peeves of people in northern Michigan.

Tribal citizens say harassment affects how they hunt, fish
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Credit Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio
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Interlochen Public Radio
Robert Rajacic of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community says he was shot at in 2009 while spearfishing for walleye on Portage Lake near Chassell, MI. He says every year people yell at him and shine spotlights.

Michigan became a state after Native American tribes ceded tens of millions of acres of land to the U.S. in a series of treaties. Those treaties said the tribes kept their rights to hunt, fish and gather on that land.

But the state didn’t honor those rights until the 1970s; then there was an ugly backlash. Tribal citizens were threatened and harassed. Their fishing boats and nets were vandalized. Things have calmed down since then, but racism and harassment persist. 

Hear how continued harassment stops some tribal citizens from exercising their treaty rights.

Pet Peeves: a list

In May, 10 students took an audio boot camp with IPR. They learned how to ask questions, use recording equipment and mix sound. Jenna Mertz, who teaches writing at Iowa State University, spoke to people about their pet peeves at the farmers market in Traverse City.

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Northern Michiganders and their pet peeves.

We want to hear from you

A recent report from the United Nations found that more than one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction.

How far do you think people should go to protect animals and plants? Should we do more to protect species? Should we let things play out? Or are conservation efforts getting in the way of your livelihood?

Call us with a comment at 231-276-4444, email a voice memo to ipr@interlochen.org or comment below.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.