Red Lake Nation renews effort to restore borders around all of Upper Red Lake

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Red Lake Band of Chippewa officials have asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to restore their borders around all of Upper Red Lake.

The Red Lake Nation tribal secretary confirmed that a letter was sent to Washington, D.C., and efforts are underway to coordinate a face-to-face meeting with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

In recent days, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki Sr. raised the issue during the State of the Band speech and said leaders would renew efforts to have the tribal land restored around Upper Red Lake.

Chairman Seki explained to community members that the borders must be changed in order to right a wrong that took place generations ago.

“Unlawful taking of portion of Upper Red Lake stems from the fraud and deception on part of the United States in negotiating an 1889 agreement with the Red Lake chiefs,” Seki said.

Upper Red Lake, which is north of Bemidji, is known for being one of the best walleye-producing lakes in the entire upper Midwest, drawing anglers from near and far.

Minnesota’s DNR estimates more than 109,000 anglers made trips to Upper Red Lake to fish in 2022.

About 60,000 acres of the Upper Red Lake basin are managed by the Red Lake Nation, according to Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources; the state manages about 48,000 acres on the eastern side.  

A Minnesota DNR spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that delineation of tribal boundaries is not a natural resources issue, instead, “a matter between federal, state, and tribal governments.”

A U.S. Department of the Interior spokesperson didn’t have a comment to provide when asked about the Red Lake Nation’s request.