The film chronicles the effort of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians--working with the State of Minnesota and the federal government--to bring back the culturally vital walleye from the brink of extinction and restore it to health in Red Lake. It examines how the band and state overcame decades of bad blood to forge an innovative public policy solution that puts cooperation before conflict and science before politics, fueling an amazing recovery that has defied the odds. The walleye recovery project won an Honoring Nations award from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development in 2006.
“It’s a very impressive film,” said Oren Lyons, chief and faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation, and chairman, Honoring Nations, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. “The key to the successful restoration of the Red Lake walleye was the sacrifice of Anishinaabe fishermen to quit fishing for as long as it took to bring the fish back, for the good of the commons as well as future generations. Red Lake leaders took sovereign initiatives based on our old values and principles. Business as usual is over. It’s cooperation rather than competition and respect for the fish that sustain us. The rest of the world should take a lesson from Red Lake.”
A joint production of NNI and Arizona Public Media, “Return of the Red Lake Walleye” was written, produced and directed by Ian Record, manager of Educational Resources at the Native Nations Institute. The film is narrated by Leah Lussier, a citizen of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and a recent graduate of the UA College of Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy program.