Lake Erie fishing rights denied for tribe


CINCINNATI (AP) – A claim by the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma that it should be given commercial fishing rights on Lake Erie without government restrictions was rejected, a federal appeals court in Ohio said in a ruling released Tuesday.

The tribe gave up its fishing rights when it moved out of northwestern Ohio in the early 1800s, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said.

The tribe filed a lawsuit four years ago against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, saying that the state shouldn’t be allowed to regulate or limit the tribe’s fishing rights based on a 200-year-old treaty.

It told the state it wanted Ohio to recognize its fishing rights and intended to use gill net fishing in Lake Erie, a practice that’s illegal in Ohio.

The state argued that the tribe’s complaint was based on a treaty that had nothing to do with Lake Erie or fishing rights.

State officials at the time said they thought the suit and another one brought by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma were aimed at forcing the state to negotiate over casino gambling.

An attorney for the Ottawa tribe denied that they were planning to use the claim as leverage for a casino. The Ottawas are among at least three tribes that have pursued a casino in Ohio.

There are no federally recognized Indian tribes or lands in Ohio.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.