Family members of the two young men still lost on the lake agreed it was the best thing to do
RED LAKE – At a Special Tribal Council Meeting held on Wednesday, January 3, 2018, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians voted 6-2 to keep Red Lake open for ice fishing, even though the two young men still lost on the lake, have not been recovered yet.
Tribal Council members voting for the resolution were: Secretary Sumner, Representatives Pemberton, Stately, Thunder, Nelson and Martin. Members voting against the resolution were Treasurer Johnson and Representative Smith. Members absent from the meeting were Representative Barrett and Reynolds.
It wasn't an easy decision for the Council to make, since in the past, and traditionally, no fishing on the lake would take place until lost fishermen were found or recovered.
At a meeting held with family members of the lost fishermen, they felt it would be best to allow fishing on Red Lake, citing the more people out on the lake, could help in finding them.
On the afternoon of Monday, November 6, 2017, Red Lake Department of Public Safety received a report of a boat that was capsized in the water near an area known as the "Cut Off" on the eastern side of Lower Red Lake
It was also reported that the boat contained three occupants and one of the fishermen swam to shore and was rescued by some people passing by and the other two are still reported to be missing. The rescued fisherman, Dominic Johnson, was transferred to the Red Lake Indian Health Service hospital and was being treated for hypothermia.
The reported missing fishermen were identified as Deland Beaulieu, age 29 and a 17 year old juvenile male, Jacob Kingbird.
Following the report, immediate search and rescue efforts were established by the RLDPS Conservation Enforcement Division and Red Lake Fire Department for both the water and shorelines. The search and rescue mission on the lake was later called off due to another rescuer facing hypothermia.
However, law enforcement continued to search the area throughout the night in the event the fishermen made it to shore.
In the days that followed the search continued but were unsuccessful. Searches were conducted by plane, watercraft and on foot with no success, as well as The Lakes Area Dive Team and cadaver dogs.
Searching by boat became no longer possible because of ice forming on the lake so they had to use airboats, divers and remote operated vehicles.
Fifty-eight days have now passed and the search continues for the missing fishermen. And once the lake completely froze only a few people had went out ice fishing. The Red Lake Fisheries was not taking any fish from anyone, however.
About five months earlier on June 16, 2017 another Red Lake fishermen, Ted Graves Sr., had went out on the lake and had not returned home that evening.
It wasn't until Tuesday, June 20, 2017, Melvin Whitefeather Sr. and his son-in-law Kevin Patterson were searching the east port of upper Red Lake. They made it as far as the Old Camp Road landing. There they had to turn around because of motor trouble, perhaps gas line trouble. They were traveling back to the Point area at a very slow place when they came upon an object, and as they got closer they could see what appeared to be camouflage. It turned out to be Ted Graves Sr.
But for now Bill Brunelle, Director of the Red Lake Department of Public Safety, stated they were continuing with the search and the Red Lake Tribal Council passed a resolution allowing Red Lake members to fish on the ice on both Upper and Lower Red Lake.
The Red Lake Tribal Council Webpage issued a statement today that read:
Effective Immediately - The Red Lake Tribal Council voted in favor of opening the lake back up to fishing today, [even though the lake was never officially closed to fishing], January 3, 2018 at a Special Tribal Council meeting held at the Seven Clans Casino Event Center, Red Lake, MN.
The tribal members were able to voice their opinions and gave their respects to the families of the missing fishermen. The Tribal Council met with the families of the missing men yesterday, [and]the families agreed they wanted fishermen on the lake in hopes of covering more areas and bringing their boys home.
The Tribal Council asks that the members fishing would respectfully be 18 years and older until the missing boys are brought home.
Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki issued a statement Thursday, reminding area anglers that fishing on reservation lakes is reserved for band members only.
The news release, posted on the Red Lake Tribal Council Facebook page, addressed a resolution passed by the council on Wednesday opening fishing on Upper and Lower Red Lake, two months after two fishermen disappeared there.
After the resolution was passed, the tribe received inquiries from non-members about fishing on the lakes.
"The Tribal Council's recent resolution did not expand the individuals who are permitted to fish the water of Red Lake Reservation beyond Red Lake tribal members," the release said.
The Red Lake Reservation is a closed reservation and the tribal council controls all activities on reservation land and waters. A small portion of Upper Red Lake is located outside the boundaries of the reservation and non-members may fish there.