Ma’iingan (The Wolf) Our Brother

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On February 11, 2015, U. S. House Representative Reid J. Ribble introduced legislation that would force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-issue a 2011 order that removed gray wolves in the Great Lakes Region from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. The legislation will also block any lawsuits indefinitely that would try to bring the Great Lakes Wolves under ESA protection in the future. This is a violation of the Great Lakes Tribes and tribal members Right to Freedom of Religion. In the Ojibwe language, our word for wolf is “Ma’iingan – The one put here by that All Loving Spirit to show us the way.” This is not so much a translation as it is a description of the one we are talking about. That is what this legislation is trying to take away. For some, there may be a parallel or similar understanding having something to do with Christians and Jesus.

Lastly, the legislation would eliminate Tribes and citizens right to sue, under Freedom of Religion or any other type of claim. There has not been adequate Government to Government Consultation on delisting the grey wolf. This legislation violates everybody’s right to sue the government about wolves in the Great Lakes region now and forever.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



To direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FEBRUARY 11, 2015 Mr. RIBBLE (for himself, Mrs. LUMMIS, Mr. BENISHEK, Mr. PETERSON, Mr. DUFFY, Mr. EMMER, Mr. GROTHMAN, Mr. HUIZENGA of Michigan, Mr. KIND, Mr. KLINE, Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SIMPSON, Mr. WALBERG, and Mr. WALZ) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.


To direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. REISSUANCE OF FINAL RULE REGARDING GRAY WOLVES IN THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior

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HR 884 shall reissue the final rule published on December 28, 2011 (76 Fed. Reg. 81666), without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review. SEC. 2. REISSUANCE OF FINAL RULE REGARDING GRAY WOLVES IN WYOMING. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on September 10, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 55530), without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review.

“Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review.”

That is the challenge. Below is a link to the legislation as well as its current status.

H.R. 884:

H.R. 884 violates Tribes and tribal citizens constitutional right to freedom of religion and all citizens’ and Tribes right to redress of grievances. Please contact the House Natural Resources Committee and tell them to exempt Tribes and Reservations in the Great Lakes Region from this legislation and to remove for all citizens the wording “Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review.”

Tell Congress to re-affirm Tribes rights to govern their own Cultural and Spiritual resources, including Ma’iingan, within their Indian Reservation boundaries

Link to House Natural Resources Committee:

Find and contact your congressional representatives:

Tell them H. F. is a very bad idea as proposed. Your Rep should be urged to exempt Tribes and Reservation from the legislation and to remove the wording about not allowing judicial review of the order. This legislation eviscerates the Endangered Species Act. Politics have no place in ESA management. Politics have no business meddling in Tribes and tribal citizens Freedom of Religion or all citizens and Tribes right to sue on the behalf of wolves, now and forever, in the Great Lakes Region.

“We see the wolf as a predictor of our future. And what happens to wolf happens to Anishinaabe…whether other people see it or not, the same will happen to them…”

-Joe Rose, Bad River Ojibwe Elder

The recent delisting of the wolf by the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been met with support by some major hunting groups and some northern politicians. The delisting of an endangered species in a region proposed for an aggressive minerals exploitation is convenient for mining corporations. Tribal governments across the board have opposed this, and the White Earth and Red Lake reservations have created wolf sanctuaries with the l854 Treaty Authority; the GLIFWC tribal leadership (Voight decision) in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan also opposes the delisting.

Here’s some of the story

In the minds of state officials, wolves have moved from an endangered species to a target–delisting now means that a wolf can be moved into a hunting and trapping season, a somewhat ironic success story.

Arguing that the wolf populations have been restored adequately and now constitute a threat to the deer populations of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, legislation and regulations are underway to open a wolf season in the northern territory as early as the fall of 2012. In Minnesota, Representative David Dill of Crane Lake and Senator Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids have both introduced bills calling for wolf seasons. Their companion bills call for a wolf hunting season to begin no later than the first day of Minnesota’s firearms deer hunting season, or November 3rd of 2012. They propose a secondary wolf trapping season to begin on January 1st, 2013. Their target is to allow for the culling or killing of up to 400 wolves.

A similar bill is being proposed in Wisconsin–Senate Bill 411. In both cases, the strongest opposition to the wolf hunting and trapping seasons are the tribal communities, the Anishinaabeg:

“We understand wolves to be our educators, teaching us about hunting and working together in extended family units. Wolves exemplify perseverance, guardianship, intelligence, and wisdom. Moreover, in the Anishinaabe creation story, we are taught that Ma’iingan is a brother to the Original Man. The two traveled together throughout the earth naming everything. Once this task was completed, the Creator said that the two had to take separate paths, but indicated that whatever happened to one would happen to the other. Each would be feared, respected, and misunderstood by the people who would later join them on earth. Thus the health and survival of Anishinaabe people is tied to that of Ma’iingan. We can do no less than to fully support efforts to protect and promote acceptance and to ensure healthy and abundant populations of wolves–it is our future we are also considering…”

“This unique relationship with Ma’iingan brings with it unique responsibility. For the Anishinaabe, the cultural significance of wolves and the responsibility of the tribes to manage the wolf resource in Wisconsin in a culturally appropriate way cannot be overstated…”

-James Zorn, Executive Administrator of GLFWC

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Administrator reminded the state of Wisconsin in his testimony, that “the State does not have unfettered discretion to exercise its management prerogatives to the detriment of the tribes’ reserved rights in ways that would be contrary to the requirements of the Lac Courte Orielles v. Wisconsin case…or the Voight decision…”

Tara Mason, John Shimek and Tessa McLean lead a White Earth wolf hunt protest: November, 2012

Wolves for the trophy hunt

Mark Johnson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association is excited about the prospect of a wolf season during the deer season. He points out that “if deer hunters had the option to buy a tag (to take a wolf), that might even be a pretty marketable hunt.” On residents, Ken Soyring, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids notes, “Where else can you hunt a deer and get a chance at a wolf? I think that’s something people would drive for.” The math seems good to Johnson: one proposal is for the state to hold a lottery on wolf. If the season were held during firearms deer season, the state might sell as many as 75,000 to l00,000 licenses. “One hundred thousand licenses, even at $20 a piece…that’s $ 2 million that would come in,” said Sorying.

Interestingly enough, Minnesota is already in the business of killing or culling wolves, depending on how you look at it. The USDA, in coordination with the Minnesota DNR, killed and trapped 215 wolves last year. That program lost its federal funding, but it involved 19 DNR-trained private trappers. Frankly, that seems a bit more thoughtful than the state’s wolf plan. Senators Franken and Klobuchar are both seeking to have this funding restored.

The Anishinaabeg, however, remain on the other side of this debate. Joe Rose, an elder from Bad River Ojibwe Band and Professor Emeritus of Native American Studies at Northland College in Ashland Wisconsin, points out, “We don’t have stories like Little Red Riding Hood, or the Three Little Pigs, or the werewolves of Transylvania.”

There are some in the larger community who seem to understand this reality. A larger number of northerners have taken a stand in opposition to this exploitation– from the mines to the wolves–and continue to protect the wild rice. Former Minnesota State Representative Frank Moe now lives near Grand Marais, Minnesota, and seems to have a keen understanding of the relationship between the north and the mining companies. Moe represented the Anishinaabeg in the 2005-2007 legislative battle to oppose the genetic engineering of wild rice, meeting some success in terms of protection.

Frank also continues an Anishinaabe tradition of caring for the closest relative of the wolf, the dog. Frank Moe drove a team of sled dogs from Grand Marais to the capital in St. Paul early this March. He delivered 12,500 petitions urging state and federal officials to deny any permits that would allow sulfide mining to occur in Minnesota. Moe, like many others, holds little credence in the environmental thinking of the mining corporations. “This has never been done safely anywhere else…But they say, ‘We’ve got it figured out. We’ll be fine.’ You know what? I don’t want to risk that for Minnesota’s crown jewels. We’re talking about Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyager National Park, and all the lakes and rivers and streams in northeastern Minnesota that are our lifeblood up there.”