1. Socioeconomic settings

The northern portion of Wisconsin, encompassing 22,400 square miles and including all or parts of 30 counties, was ceded by the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribes to the United States in the Treaties of 1837 and 1842 ... Although the lands were ceded to the United States, the Chippewa Tribes retained hunting, fishing, and gathering rights throughout this area (USDI 1991). The Wisconsin Ceded Territory contains 77% of Wisconsin’s lakes accounting for 53% of the total inland lake surface acreage in Wisconsin (Staggs et al. 1990). Of lakes within the Ceded Territory, over 900 contain walleye (Sander vitreus) and more than 600 contain musky (Esox masquinongy), and the vast majority of naturally reproducing walleye and musky populations are found within the Ceded Territory. 

During the 1970's and 1980's northern Wisconsin was still a region of small family-owned resorts and recreation centered around hunting and fishing. The time period highlighted in "The Walleye War" was a period when the region began to undergo a transition as property values sky rocketed and larger resorts, water parks, and other entertainment venues moved into the area. Suddenly locals began to lose control and "gentrification" forced many to the economic margins.

The ever increasing development pressure has led to deteriorating water quality, privatization of lake shorelines, and other factors that have had a negative impact on fish populations and on the access of blue collar fishermen to many of the lakes. This has, at various times, fueled anger directed at scapegoats (which I believe was one of the reasons why so much violence was directed at Ojibwe fishers), and more recently, has led to attempts at regional planning to incorporate non-monetary values.

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