Why is January 25 Treaty Day for the Ojibwe?
By Joe Morey
On Monday, January 25, the LCO Tribe will celebrate Treaty Day with all tribal administrative operations being closed to observe this Ojibwe holiday. In addition to tribal office closures, the LCO Ojibwe School will hold a powwow at the school for students and viewable on the school’s Youtube page. The LCO Ojibwe College will hold a series of speakers at Noon each day through the whole week. A larger view of this flyer is down below in the Community Events section.
Why is Treaty Day celebrated on January 25? Because that is the date in 1983 that the U.S Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit made a ruling that became known as the Voigt Decision to affirm Ojibwe Treaty Rights.
According to an informational page of the LCO Ojibwe College, “The United States government has applied numerous attempts to take away all tribal people's rights, but the people have fought back. Especially, pertaining to the Ojibwe, the rights have been retained and still exercised to this day. The Voigt Decision is one of those many court cases fought and won by the Ojibwe people of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This court case is mainly recognized in today's day-to-day living by the Ojibwe fishermen and hunters because it is the outcome of the fight for Ojibwe rights to fish and hunt in the ceded territory. Therefore, it is widely employed in the cultural healing and identification of the "modern" Ojibwe men or women who wish to keep this part of the lost history alive.”
The page goes on to describe the decision as;
1983 LAC COURTE OREILLES vs. WISCONSIN (VOIGT DECISION)
“On January 25, 1983 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit agreed with the Lake Superior Ojibwe that hunting, fishing and gathering rights were reserved and protected in a series of treaties between the Ojibwe and the United States government. This case is known as the Voigt Decision or, as LCO I. It is especially important for its depth of review into the substance and interpretation of the 19th Century treaties. Specifically, the three circuit court judges ruled that the usufructuary rights were not withdrawn by the 1950 Removal Order because the order was invalid. They also concluded that the 1854 treaty did not specifically revoke those rights either. Later, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the Voigt Decision by the State of Wisconsin, affirming the ruling of the 7th Circuit. The three judge panel of the 7th Circuit did return the case to District Court to "determine the scope of state regulation" and the scope of the rights.”
The information concludes stating, “Then the state government tried to regulate hunting and fishing on private land, but did not succeed and the Ojibwe are allowed to fish, hunt and gather on private land within the ceded territory.”