5 Role of Intertribal Treaty Commissions As agencies of their Tribes, the Great Lakes treaty commissions provide intertribal coordination to uphold and sustain legal obligations inherent in the Tribes’ treaty-reserved rights. Their mission is two-fold: • Ensure that their Tribes are able to exercise treaty-protected rights to meet subsis- tence, economic, cultural, medicinal, and spiritual needs; and • Ensure a healthy, sustainable natural resource base to support those rights. The commissions help their Tribes to: • Meet specific federal treaty and statutory obligations; • Fulfill conservation, habitat protection, and law enforcement functions required by federal court decisions affirming the Tribes’ treaty rights; • Effectively regulate harvests of natural resources; and • Partner with local, state, and federal governments, educational institutions, and conservation organizations and other non-profit agencies. With their commissions, Tribes have established comprehensive regulatory systems governing the exercise of ceded territory rights. They have adopted management plans and conservation codes that govern a broad range of harvest activities, including fishing, deer hunting, bear hunting, small game and furbearer hunting/trapping, wild rice gathering, and wild plant and forest products gathering. And since the subsistence right to harvest fish is meaningless if the fish are not safe to eat or have disappeared because spawning grounds have been lost, Tribes work to prevent habitat destruction, restore and protect native species, and eradicate invasive species, with the benefit of preserving natural resources for tribal members and broader communities. “We need to…remember where we came from and who we are because those treaties are us. That’s our life.” —George Newago Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians