Sawyer, MN (NNCNOW.COM)
New Fond du Lac tribal regulations for the wild rice harvest on Perch Lake will keep all non tribal members off the lake this season.
The regulations are so strict that we weren't even allowed to enter the lake.
Ricers have packed up and headed out to Perch Lake for the start of the wild rice harvesting season.
But this year, only Fond du Lac band members made the trip.
"This year when my wife went to get her license they said no...because of the new regulations," says Jim Northrup, a long time ricer.
It's the first year spouses of band members were not granted permits.
Ricing has been a tradition and a way of life for the Northrup family.
"I would say my family has been ricing here for more that 100 years."
The regulations were put in place after last year's wild rice crop was pretty much wiped out by the June flood.
Tribal leaders say they've made what they feel are necessary changes.
"All FDL band members and all other Indians that resided on Fond du Lac for one year or more...this year it's been changed to FDL band members only because of the limited resource of rice on Fond du Lac reservation Lakes," says Reginald Defoe, Director of Resource Management on the Fond du Lac reservation.
The strict rules aren't sitting well with some who say the crop is the best they've seen in many years.
"Last year it was a swimming pool out there. This year it's the best I've seen it in 25 years," adds Northrup.
A great rice year yields about 16 tons of rice.
A poor year...3 to–5 tons.
This year's crop is expected to produce 5– to 10 tons.
"There was no rice last year just ruminant plants here and there. This year it's better than last year but it's not one of our bumper crop years, it's not an average year; it's below average," says Defoe.
Fond du Lac authorities say the regulations are subject to change every year based on crop projections.
Jim Northrup says there are talks underway about non–band members acquiring a state license to harvest but that issue hasn't been resolved as yet.
Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware