Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of what I'm calling "citizen reviews" of films playing at the MSPIFF. The first is by Reyna Crow, an activist with the group Idle No More. I reached out to Reyna because I knew she would have something to say about Medicine of the Wolf, a film about the cotroversial wolf hunt here in Minnesota. In this short article, Reyna gives us some insight into issues in the film. It screens tomorrow, April 11th at 4:45 at Saint Anthony Main and Sunday, April 12th at 1pm at the Best Buy Theater. More information visit the MSPIFF website
As I looked at the festival, I noticed many films that affect our audiences here in the Twin Cities on a personal and politcal level. Rather than have a review, I wanted you to hear first hand what some of these films mean to members of our community.
The fate of wolves in Minnesota has been intensely debated since the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced plans for a hunting season to begin November of 2012, contrary to the terms of the Roundtable Wolf Management plan adopted by the DNR years earlier.
After three hunting seasons, a ruling last December by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell that the decision to de-list wolves had been `arbitrary and capricious’, and which re-ordered endangered species protections for wolves outside of Minnesota, with threatened status here, and effectively stopped hunts in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming.
But…the Federal/State tug of war over wolf policy continues, with several members of Congress proposing legislation which would nullify Howell’s ruling.
HR 884, which has advanced to the House Committee on Natural Resources, seeks to direct that ` … the Secretary of the Interior shall re-issue the final rule published on December 28, 2011 (76 Fed. Reg. 81666)’, referring to the 2011 rule de-listing wolves, which made the recent hunts possible, and chillingly also stipulates that: `Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review.’ (Emphasis added).
The authors and supporters of this bill want to make sure that no impartial judge ever has oversight in this matter again.
One of the primary purposes of the Endangered Species Act was to ensure that policy which affected wildlife to be managed in the public trust during not only this, but future generations was not based on political favor trading as opposed to sound ecological data.
Yet, as Dennis Simon, Chief of the Wildlife Management Division of the MN DNR wrote in an internal email in April of 2012, `… I have come to the conclusion that we owe it to our primary clients, hunters and trappers, and to livestock producers as secondary clients, to do what we can to establish a legitimate harvest opportunity now that the wolf is under our management authority.’
Not only are Congress and the DNR abdicating their duty to science and the public interest, they failed to adequately consult with the Anishinaabeg, with whom the state has treaties which require bands to be consulted with respect to any policy affecting culturally significant resources. As long time wolf advocate and Anishinaabeg elder Robert Shimek explains beautifully in his essay `The Wolf is My Brother!’ whether one sees the wolf as brother or pest is a matter more of cultural and spiritual teachings and values than objective discernment. Congress might be violating not only the letter and spirit of the treaties, but the 1st amendment rights of traditional Anishinaabeg people as well.
This is a good time to reflect on the significance of wolves to Minnesotans, whose interest in the Northwoods tends more towards appreciation than consumption. Take some time and read Shimek’s essay and catch the premiere of `Medicine of the Wolf’ from Director Julia Huffman at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Then, call your Representatives and urge them to ensure that any new wolf legislation re-affirms the right of the Great Lakes Tribes to govern wolf policy within reservation boundaries.
As Judge Howell also said ` At times a court must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know that enough is enough.’ It’s time for the citizens of Minnesota to do the same thing.