WBEZ: Tribes play a role in protecting lakes from invasive species

"In Leelanau County in Northern Michigan, a small American Indian tribe has struggled for generations to survive economic and social hardships. The tribe has always been deeply connected to the lakes economically and culturally. The latest threat to that connection is environmental degradation, particularly invasive species. But the tribes are forming unexpected alliances with old enemies to fight the threat.

Peshawbestown is the reservation for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, a group that has lived in this area longer than anyone. It doesn’t have any t-shirt shops or beach-front mansions. Instead, there are government offices, a casino, and a tribal marina. Ed John is a tribal fisherman who docks his boat here.

JOHN: I can weld, and other things. But I enjoy fishing cause I am my own boss. I am not rich, but I don’t want to be rich, it’s working for me.

Tribes have always been dependent on the lakes. We asked Ed how invasive species have been threatening the tribes livelihood.

JOHN: I was just telling my buddy, we got these reporters down here, asking about Invasive species. We know a thing or two about invasive species. First we had the Vikings and all these other countries taking, actually invading our space."

Get the Story:
Who owns the fish? How tribal rights could save the Great Lakes. (WBEZ 7/14)

Join the Conversation