Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

White Earth Nation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Celebrate Signing of Historic MOA for Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, a crucial habitat for numerous species and a significant cultural and historical site.

WHITE EARTH, MINN. – On Tuesday, June 4, leaders from the White Earth Nation (WEN) and representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) gathered at a community ceremony at the Shooting Star Casino, in Mahnomen, Minn., to celebrate the signing of a significant Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The historic agreement, a testament to the strong partnership between the two governments, strengthens the enduring conservation partnership between the White Earth Nation and the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

The MOA simplifies the permitting process for various treaty-protected activities. This means that under the terms of the MOA, Band members will no longer have to acquire separate permits from WEN and the USFWS. The WEN will align its Conservation Code consistent with federal standards, sovereignty, and treaty rights and be able to issue a single permit, making important cultural and sustenance activities more accessible. This agreement also ensures the preservation of the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, a vital ecosystem for future generations.

Chairman Michael Fairbanks said, "This agreement signifies a significant milestone in our longstanding relationship with the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. We are taking crucial steps to protect and support our citizens' rights to engage in treaty-protected activities. We deeply appreciate the support and collaboration that has made this endeavor possible."

Notably, the agreement also commits both parties to developing a co-stewardship agreement. This significant step forward would empower the Band to play a more substantial role in safeguarding and conserving this refuge, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

"With deep cultural ties to this land, WEN has consistently regarded itself as its guardian and steward. We are excited about the opportunity to formalize a co-stewardship agreement that will enable us to contribute more to preserving this special place," said Chairman Michael Fairbanks.


What the MOA does:

• Delineates formal processes for water structures in the Refuge, which are essential for ricing, by providing that USFWS Refuge staff give due consideration consistent with Executive Orders and Federal law to WEDNR for the health and benefit of Manoomin (wild rice).

• Provides dispute resolution mechanisms in case of dispute over the MOA with USFWS and WEN.

• It provides for government-to-government data/information sharing, planning, and implementation in real-time and annually.

• Both parties commit to work expeditiously on future agreements and co-stewardship.

• WEN agrees to amend the Conservation Code concerning Tamarac NWR to include permitting standards and enforcement protocols consistent with treaty rights, inherent Sovereignty, and federal law.

• Removes duplicative permitting requirements with Feds and WEDNR for band members for certain activities (ricing; furbearer trapping; harvesting leeches, turtles, and minnows; gathering wild plants; some wood cutting for dead and down timber and traditional wood products; ceremonies; and scientific activities) in the Refuge so USFWS will recognize WEDNR permits.

What the MOA does not do:

• Transfer ownership or management of the Refuge to WEN.

• Alter current hunting or fishing practices.

• Provide permitting processes for any additional activities not currently utilized.


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