As tribal boundary issue emerges, Upper Red Lake residents take a 'wait-and-see' approach

Community watches closely because the stakes are high, but there's a realization that any challenge would take years to unfold


March 31, 2023

Fishing Upper Red Lake for walleyes is a popular activity, but boundary negotiations could change that.

Jon Petrowske's great-grandfather settled in the area of Upper Red Lake in 1907, walking there from the town of Kelliher after moving from Dakota County.

The family stayed put and Jon - as a member of its fourth generation - ran a fishing camp until recently on the lake's north shore. It was close to the reservation boundary of Red Lake Nation.

Petrowske said he's heard murmurs throughout his life that Red Lake tribal leaders wanted to restore the reservation boundary to include all of Upper Red Lake. Currently, the eastern four-tenths of the lake belongs to the state of Minnesota.

Now the murmurs have transformed into open conversation among people who work and live around Upper Red about the "what-ifs" of a sustained boundary challenge. Those conversations were sparked by a recent announcement that it's a priority of the tribal council to reclaim all of Upper Red Lake.


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