Thunder Lake, Minnesota

Photograph by Jack Dykinga, National Geographic

Sunset flares over Thunder Lake, one of 14 small lakes on the Red Lake Reservation managed by the tribal fisheries department. It feeds Red Lake, sacred to the Chippewa and once again thick with walleyes—fish with a glassy stare revered for their sweet, snowy flesh. By 1996 decades of overfishing had decimated the Red Lake fishery. Tribal, state, and federal agencies, along with the University of Minnesota, cooperated to set up a management plan. Fishing was suspended. Walleye fry were stocked. In less than ten years the fish population exploded from 200,000 to eight million, and tribal members were allowed to resume commercial fishing.