Lake Superior Whitefish: Carrying on a Family Tradition | The Ways

I think it was 1984. I can’t remember exactly. We just came over here because the treaties
were reaffirmed and it opened the waters to come down
to the Keweenaw Bay area. I run Peterson’s
Fish Market and 4 Suns Fish & Chips
take-out. I oversee everything,
but I can do everything. I can prep I can filet. I can make nets,
I can mend nets. I can do book work. We’re from the Red Cliff Band
of Lake Superior Chippewa. When we got here, there was lots
of prejudice around here. They did not want us
down here fishing. They thought these fishing
grounds belonged just exclusively
to them. The cable man would come into
the homes to hook up the cable and he’d say, you guys
don’t belong here. You’d better go back
to Wisconsin. In school, they were telling
the younger kids that those Wisconsin Indians
don’t belong and that they
should go back home. They have no right
to be here. In school even. They don’t understand
about treaty fishing you know,
what we gave up for our rights to
continue doing this today. All the land they’re on
was ours. In exchange for
shoving us off our land putting us on these reservations we get to hunt and fish
and gather rice as long as
the sun rises and sets. Well, that’s forever. All the boys started working
on the fish boats when they were about 12. It’s a family tradition
for the Petersons. Our oldest son, Chris,
he runs our fish boat. Actually,
I like to call myself the head
of acquisitions. Whitefish
is our prime target. Any trout we get
is incidental. It’s always a hunt,
east, west north, south,
in shallow or out deeper. You know, it’s always
a constant hunt. I’ve been lucky enough
to be able to to find some really good
patches of fish. You know,
you have to read what the nets
are telling you. Let’s get as
much fish as we can reset our gear get back to the shop. And hopefully they’re not
completely out of fish. We have a lot of people that
depend on a lot of fish. I know that if I don’t catch
enough everybody suffers not just the extended family
but all the employees. I’m real proud that we provide
so many jobs for the area. You know, when people are
getting laid off left and right we’re still adding jobs.>>This December
it’ll be 20 years that we’ve been
in operation. So it’s
just been growing. You know,
lots of long hours lots of hard work. All the people
that were against us are now customers. The cable man came in one day
and I said, we made it. Here he comes,
buying our fish. [laughing]

Stephen Childs

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