The late 1980s and early 1990s was a time of intense conflict between Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians and white sportfishers over Native treaty rights in the forested northern third of Wisconsin. For months, the normal peace and quiet of this ceded area outside of the state’s six Ojibwe reservations was shattered by whites chanting racist taunts such as “timber n_____,” assaulting tribal elders, and ramming Ojibwe vehicles to protest the ancient practice of Native spearfishing. Less than a decade later, Native American nations and white sportfishing groups are cooperating to protect the same fish they had fought over, and building a powerful alliance that has chased several mining companies out of the state. International mining industry journals now express worry about the contagious spread of Wisconsin anti-mining strategies, and identify Wisconsin as one of four global battlegrounds for the industry’s future.
—ZOLTAN GROSSMAN AND DEBRA MCNUTT, ColorLines, 2001