The United States filed a lawsuit in 1973 on behalf of the Bay Mills Indian Community to obtain a determination that a 1836 treaty reserved the Community’s right to fish in areas of Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. Several other tribes intervened, and the treaty right was initially confirmed in a 1979 decision. After that ruling, the parties entered into a consent decree in 1985 in which Great Lakes fishery was allocated among the parties by lake, zones, species, and catch limits. After that decree expired in 2000, the parties negotiated a new agreement.
In 1979, the five treaty tribes in United States v. Michigan amended their complaint to assert tribal hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on lands ceded to the United States under the 1836 treaty. In 2004, the Indian Resources Section filed a supplemental complaint alleging that the treaty continued to reserve a right to hunt and fish on inland lands and waters within the ceded area that were not required for settlement within the meaning of the treaty. This phase of the litigation was resolved by a settlement agreement entered into in 2007.