Officials of the band and the state will hire a facilitator to help set rules for hunting and fishing on reservation land. A Supreme Court decision in 1980 said the band is a sovereign nation and not bound by the state's rules for fishing, hunting and gathering on the reservation. That means tribal members don't have to follow state bag limits for fish and harvest limits for game, among other rules. But under a law passed the same year, the tribe can enter into a formal agreement with the Department of Natural Resources to adopt hunting and fishing regulations. The Leech Lake Band has a similar agreement in place. In exchange for the formal set of rules, the White Earth Band would receive 2.5 percent of the revenues from hunting and fishing licenses - about $1.2 million annually. The DNR and White Earth Band held three public hearings in May about reaching an agreement on rules. Now that they have agreed to hire a facilitator, the next step is to find one. "A good joint agreement can provide peace of mind in the community, and good protection and good management for natural resources,'' said Capt. Craig Backer, DNR regional enforcement supervisor for northern Minnesota at Grand Rapids.
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