Environmental Role-Play:

Lake Wasota Fishing Rights


Denise Madigan, Tod Loofbourrow with teaching notes by Eileen Babbitt and Lawrence Susskind

Six-party, six-issue, scoreable negotiation among representatives of tribal, state, federal, recreation, and business interests over fishing rights in a large lake


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


Lake Wasota is one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the country. Over the last twenty years, it has been the site of a bitter dispute over fishing rights. The dispute revolves around the Chippewa Indians (who were granted an unlimited right to fish by a treaty) and commercial fishermen. The conflict was exacerbated by the commercial fishermen's use of new trap net technology, which has increased their catch substantially. To make matters worse, sports fishers began to fish in the lake in record numbers. Although the competition between the commercial fishermen and the Indians concerns millfish, sports fishermen are involved because trap netting also catches blue trout. The state interceded in the dispute by initiating a series of licensing regulations. The Indians, together with the U.S. Government, then sued the State of Wasota. The court, with assistance of a Special Master, brought the parties together to negotiate a temporary settlement in the shadow of an imminent court ruling on fishing rights in the lake. The parties, including the Wendana Bay Indian Tribe, the Momata Falls Indian Band, the U.S. Government, the State Natural Resources Authority, the Commercial Fishermen's Association, and the Recreation and Conservation Association are now gathering to review the original agreement and determine whether it should be ratified for another ten years. The parties must reach a decision before the original agreement expires. Although the court hopes for a total consensus, it will accept an agreement reached between the four principal parties. If such an agreement is not reached, the court will make the final decision.


  • Litigation may limit the kinds of issues one can consider in a case, and the kinds of trades the parties can devise.
  • When an impasse seems inevitable, adding new issues or dividing issues into component party may open up bargaining room.
  • Inventing options before committing to them is critical to achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. Unfettered "brainstorming" often yields creative and surprising solutions.
  • "Packaging" options often helps to promote agreement. Focusing on options one at a time may lead to deadlocks on each item.
  • The legitimacy of arguments (and agreements) is enhanced if supported by objective and respected sources of data.
  • It almost always pays to maintain cordial working relations with adversaries, even in the face of substantial disagreement. Energy should be focused on solving the problem, not on "beating" the other side.
  • Especially in public sector disputes, the broader the consensus (the more parties on board), the more secure the final agreement. A court ruling on only a narrow aspect of the dispute may not put to rest the larger dispute.



The game works well with either 6 players (one per role) or 12 players (2 per role). The complexity of the game necessitates a game manager who periodically tallies the votes and is available to answer questions. Comparative analysis can be conducted when multiple sets of the game are played simultaneously. In addition, inter-party caucusing may occur.


Estimated Time Requirements:

40 mins: read materials

150 mins: negotiation

60 mins: debrief

Total: 250 mins





For all parties:

  • General Information
  • Maps
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Summary of 1985 Agreement
  • Memoranda from the Special Master


Role specific:

Summary Report of the Joint Science Committee to

  • The Tribes and Government
  • State Authority and Associations


Confidential Instructions for the

  • Wendana Bay Indian Tribe
  • Momota Falls Indian Band
  • U.S. Government
  • State Natural Resources Authority
  • Commercial Fishers Association
  • Recreation & Conservation Association
  • Supplementary Instructions for each of the above.


Teacher's package (126 pages total):

  • All of the above
  • Game Manager Instructions
  • Debriefing Information



BATNA; Bluffing; Brainstorming; Caucusing; Coalitions; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Compliance; Consensus building; Constituents; Environmental dispute resolution; Fairness; Group process; Information exchange; Managing uncertainty; Mediation; Meeting design; Misrepresentation; Monolithic v. non-monolithic parties; Multi-party negotiation; Negotiation with indigenous peoples; Objective criteria; Offers, first; Packaging; Pareto optimization; Partisan perceptions; Political constraints, dealing with; Pressure tactics; Regulation; Reservation price; Systems of negotiation; Time constraints; Utility analysis

Lake Wasota Fishing Rights Attributes

Time required: 3-5 hours
Number of participants: 6
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: Yes