Minnesota's first managed wolf hunting and trapping season, set for this fall, will be more than just controversial.

It also will be a cultural clash.

American Indian bands around the state oppose the hunting and trapping of wolves on spiritual grounds, will prohibit wolf hunting on tribal lands and complain that the DNR and Legislature haven't considered their views.

"The wolf is part of our creation story, and therefore many Ojibwe have a strong spiritual connection to the wolf,'' Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, wrote in a letter to the DNR this spring. "Many Ojibwe believe the fate of the wolf is closely tied to the fate of all the Ojibwe. For these reasons the Fond du Lac Band feels the hunting and trapping of wolves is inappropriate.''

Leaders of the Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth bands wrote similar letters of concern to the DNR when the Legislature was still debating a wolf hunting season. Red Lake -- the only closed reservation in the state -- will close its 900,000-acre reservation to wolf hunting. . . . 

The Leech Lake Band wanted the DNR to make the reservation a separate wolf management zone, but the DNR currently includes it and the much of the rest of northeastern Minnesota in a large wolf management area. Steve Mortensen of the band's Division of Resource Management said the band is concerned too many wolves will be killed in that area.

"There is considerable concern about taking wolves for sport,'' he wrote to Landwehr. "Many tribal members feel that wolves are their brothers and they should be respected as such.''

Mortensen noted that once the wolf was removed from the Endangered Species Act protection, its management returned to the state and tribes. But he said the state hasn't discussed its wolf management plan with bands.

"How can you ignore governments that have co-management authority of much of the wolf range and come up with a plan without their input?'' he asked. . . .

Later that year, the Perham Focus reported in November 2012's White Earth acts to ban wolf hunting:

. . . "The state never really consulted with the tribe," said Mike Swan, White Earth Tribal DNR manager. "We met once in what they said was mostly a listening session and we presented the position of the tribe."

At that March 2012 meeting, Swan said the tribe's position -- to not have a wolf hunt -- fell on deaf ears. The Red Lake and Leech Lake bands voiced a similar opinion at that meeting, he said. . . .

The Leech Lake Band has banned enrolled members from hunting wolves, and tribal land is off limits, but non-native lands within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation are open to wolf hunting, according to Steve Mortensen, fish wildlife and plant resources director.

He said as of Tuesday, Oct. 30, the tribe is still discussing whether to ban wolf hunting all together on the entire reservation.

Leech Lake has a draft of an Eastern Timber Wolf Management Plan, which was started in January, but that plan has yet to be enacted.

Wolves are considered sacred in native tradition and Swan said the hunt is partially a cultural matter. . . .

Mortensen continues to work in the band's Division of Resource Management.