Native American Fish & Wildlife Society
FROM THE EAGLE’S NEST
MESSAGE FROM THE NAFWS PRESIDENT
Elveda Martinez, Southwest Region Board Director
Society Members: Fall is in the air. It’s great to see all of the pictures and FB postings of archery hunts in Indian country. Hunters and fishermen are anxious for this time of year. In August we had a conference call to discuss the use of lead free ammo and fishing supplies. The Society passed a Resolution on Support of Tribal Efforts to Reduce or Look for Alternative Non-Lead Ammunition for Taking of Wildlife on Tribal Lands in 2015 in Juneau during the national conference requesting that tribes not allow lead to be used. Lead is not good for Eagles, birds or wildlife that is hunted. The National Wildlife Federation is doing an educational page on their website and is working on a film to get out information to hunters and fishermen; this is funded by a steel shot manufacturer. Lead was banned in 1987 on the Flathead reservation. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has also been working on this; they are selling non-lead ammo to their hunters; they got a BIA grant to buy back ammo as well. This is a public and wildlife health issue. This is something that we need to include onto agendas at our regional and national conferences; we need to continue to educate hunters, fishermen, tribes and conservation law enforcement officers.
Thanks to the US Forest Service that serves the Southwest Region, the Society received $5,000.00 to help with the Navajo Nation Youth Hunt in September. Young hunters are mentored by staff and others so they can go out and get a deer to help feed their families. They learn how to shoot, track, field dress and take a deer in the traditional way.
The main issue on our plate right now is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). If this act is passed in Congress with the Tribal language that has been included that asks for $97.5 million annual dollars for Tribes, we are all going to benefit. This will allow us to work on many fish, wildlife, habitat, conservation and educational projects; it will be a historical win for us. We need more letters of support from our member tribes sent to their Congressional representatives and senators. Tribal representatives will be traveling to Washington, DC in late October to participate in hearings on the RAWA. We are also working to bring this issue to the forefront at the upcoming NCAI Convention in Albuquerque.
In July Senator Udall of New Mexico introduced the “Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019” with the main purpose of conserving and protecting wildlife corridors. There is a Tribal title included in the bill. The Society may need to coordinate outreach to tribes and draw attention to press releases and legislative hearings as this bill moves through Congress.
The Society has been busy on many fronts with CLEO trainings, regional conferences, soliciting for scholarship applicants, holding the youth practicums, revising policies, researching investment opportunities for our foundation money, seeking funding, hiring an Office Manager/Membership Coordinator, planning next year’s annual conference and holding regular Board calls.
I want to hear from you on what you’d like to see from the Society; please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for all of the work that you do in Indian Country.
Respectfully….Elveda Martinez, President & NAFWS SW Regional Director
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE
Julie Thorstenson, NAFWS Executive Director
Hello from Denver! It’s been an exciting and busy past few months as we work to reinvigorate and grow the Society. I traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota in July to attend the Great Plains Regional Conference. It was so good to see everyone and hear of the hard work being done. A shout out to Jeff Kelly and Charles Wilkinson for hosting. The Great Plains Region voted to name their scholarship in honor of one of the Society’s long-term members, the late Alvah Quinn, Sr. Many of you may remember Alvah and the work he did for his Tribe the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in Northeastern South Dakota.
The Society continues to work on HR 3742, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). We have been working with the coalition to serve as a clearinghouse for Tribal letters of support. To date, we have 26 letters of support representing 59 Tribes. We still need Tribes to get involved to ensure Tribes are included. The bill will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based wildlife action plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.
The National Summer Youth Practicum was held in conjunction with the Yakama Youth Wilderness Camp near Mt. Adams at Camp Chaparrel in Washington. This year we hosted a week-long camp for boys and one for girls. Thank you to the Yakama Nation for this wonderful experience for our Native youth.
We traveled to Wisconsin in September to attend the Great Lakes Regional Conference hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Don Reiter, Terry Metoxen and planning committee put together a top-notch conference. The return of the softball game was a big hit amongst participants. Please see the article in this issue for a recap of the conference.
We have a new employee, Heidi McCann. Heidi will serve as the Office Manager/Membership Coordinator for the Society. We are very excited to have Heidi and the wealth of knowledge and experience she brings. Heidi, and the position she holds, are vital to growing our membership. I hope you will have a chance to meet Heidi in the future.
As I read the interviews of the Society’s founding members and historical documents, I was reminded of the need and intent of the Society. The need for networking and partnering to ensure the Tribes have a national voice is still relevant today. I have been working on identifying and developing partnerships to serve our membership and mission. I look forward to all the possibilities in the future.
I have a busy travel schedule in the upcoming months and hope to meet some of you in person. As always, if you have ideas for the Society, please contact me or your regional director(s).
I hope the Winter is kind to you.
Julie Thorstenson, PhD
A FISH STORY WITH ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES
DNR’s Fisheries Program stocks walleye fingerlings in lakes around the region
By Vivian LaMoore Director of Public Relations
The Mille Lacs Band Department of Natural Resources Fisheries program has come a long way since casting a line in the development of the fish hatchery in 2015. This spring, Mille Lacs Band Aquaculture Biologist Keith Wiggins-Kegg has been working closely with Aquaculture Intern Harvey Goodsky at the hatchery and giigoonh (fish) ponds. This year’s giigoonh-rearing efforts have resulted in some highly successful results so far with many months to go before winter takes hold of the rearing ponds.
The DNR launched the aquaculture (fish farming) program in 2015 by designing and building a hatchery using mainly donated equipment and by purchasing other needed equipment with a modest budget of $10,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). By fall of 2017, Band biologists successfully released an estimated 3,442,000 fry into area lakes.
Keith joined the MLB DNR fisheries department in 2018. “What we’ve done in the short time I have been here is nothing short of miraculous,” he said.
Keith earned his degree from Mount Hood Community College in Oregon. He left Oregon on a four-day journey pulling his boat and drove straight through to Mille Lacs. “I was so tired,” Keith recalled. “It is great to work with this group of biologists and staff. They are all very supportive. We are building on the existing hatchery and really establishing some very unique concepts with significant importance.“
Keith went to work immediately using funds from the BIA to update the hatchery with new equipment. Keith removed excess tanks, engineered a new nine-bag filtration system to eliminate debris, built a new system to eliminate gas, made new tank screens to prevent fry from escaping, installed a wood heater, constructed an aeration system, and more.
Despite all of the new improvements, in the spring of 2019, the laws of nature intervened. During the final stages of the incubation phase, a passing storm overwhelmed the new filtration system. The flow was lost, causing an ogaa (walleye) fry mortality rate of 50 percent.
Despite the loss, 1,000,000 ogaa fry still survived. These fry were successfully stocked into three of the six rearing ponds and are currently 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.
Keith was mainly assisted this spring by Harvey Goodsky, the DNR’s aquaculture intern. Harvey was attending Fond du Lac Tribal College fulfilling basic academic courses. He knew his ultimate goal was to gain an education and work in a field that was culturally significant such as education or language study. When he saw the aquaculture internship position open up, he said he thought it would be a good opportunity for the summer.
“I come from a very culturally traditional family. I sing and dance, my children all dance. Our Ojibwe culture is very important to me and my family. I was drawn to the job description because of the word ‘culture,'” Harvey said. “I really didn’t know what to expect. But I really enjoy it. I am learning something every day. I know all of these things are important because walleye and the lake are such an important part of our culture.”
Keith and Harvey have been busy this spring and summer keeping the hatchery healthy and studying specific issues that affect the health of not only Mille Lacs Lake, but other area lakes as well.
“I have assisted with sub-sampling for aquatic invasive species to work towards preventing the spread of AIS,” Harvey said. “At the hatchery, I work with maintaining egg jars and have learned how to keep out ICH (a fish disease caused by the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis), fungus, and mold. The hatchery and all projects and equipment associated with it, such as jars, tanks, and filtration, have to be monitored every day.” Keith, Harvey, and the fisheries team attend to the hatchery and ensure all projects are monitored multiple times a day, every day, even on weekends.
After the fertilized eggs hatch, 1,000,000 fry were stocked into three of the six rearing ponds as well as 1,000 muskie fry. Fathead minnows were also stocked into the ponds to feed the growing fish. Starting in July, fingerlings were stocked into area lakes within the 1837 Ceded Territory lakes. Stocking of the lakes and ponds will continue into the fall. Lakes that have been stocked include Mayhew, Pierz-Fish, Lehmans-Hidden, and Captive. If time allows, Shakopee, Sullivan, and Platte may be stocked as well.
The netting process has been successful. Survival rates of ogaa fingerlings after harvest can vary from 50-70 percent in the summer due to the heat; however, the fisheries team is seeing greater success having roughly a 95 percent survival rate. “I actually need 100 non-living ones so I can dissect them to study under a microscope for any invasives. But it makes me happy so many are surviving,” Keith said. The invasive species studies are being conducted with help from other DNR interns as well.
The fishery team is helping to ensure sustainability of the ogaa for future generations. In addition to the Elder and youth pond in D1, they are formulating plans for a fishing pond at East Lake stocked with ogaa. The East Lake fishing pond would provide fishing opportunities to Elders and youth.
By the end of the internship, Keith explained, Harvey will have been a part of the entire ogaa-rearing process, including sampling, egg and milt harvesting, fertilization, hatching, and releasing fry and fingerlings this fall.
Harvey said he has found something he is really excited about. He is now considering a career in the environmental science field and possibly fish and wildlife conservation and biology.
“This is important to our culture. I will be able to bring what I learn back to help our community,” Harvey said. “Plus, it is really cool.”
(Below are photos from the Mill Lacs Band of Ojibwe Natural Resources).