Tuesday, October 18, 2011


ONAMIA, Minn. – The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe donated $42,384 in monetary and in-kind contributions to a variety of nonprofit organizations and other charitable causes in September.

Each month the Band and its businesses make contributions to community organizations including schools, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, food shelves, and others in Minnesota and nationwide.

In September the Mille Lacs Band donated $1,000 to Brainerd’s Crisis Line and Referral Service to help fund a 24-hour lifeline volunteer program to serve Crow Wing County. The Band also contributed $1,000 to Webb Lake Area First Responders in Spooner, Minnesota, to replace the organization’s defibrillators.

Additionally, the Mille Lacs Band gave $1,000 to Our Place Teen Addictions Recovery Program in Forest Lake to fund programming and support group resources. The Band also donated $800 to the Dakota Wicohan, an organization dedicated to preserving the Dakota language and culture in Morton, Minnesota, to assist with summer camp and after-school activities for native youth.

Other notable contributions include those to Minnesota DARE Inc. for assistance with youth drug prevention, Plymouth’s Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ leadership and activity club, Overcomers Outreach Ministries’ recovery center, Moose Lake Area Hockey Association, and the Children’s Hospital Association in Saint Paul.

In September the Band donated to organizations and causes in Aitkin, Anoka, Blue Earth, Carlton, Chisago, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Freeborn, Hennepin, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lake of the Woods, McLeod, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Olmsted, Pine, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Renville, Rice, Saint Louis, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, and Wright counties. The Band also donated in Barron, Burnett, Columbia, Eau Claire, and Pierce counties in Wisconsin as well as Floyd County in Iowa.

About the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a self-governing, federally recognized Indian tribe located in East Central Minnesota. The Band has more than 4,000 enrolled members, for whom it provides a wide variety of programs and services.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Update on Wisconsin's Iron Mining by Jordan Weinand KBJR News 1

Updated Oct 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM CDT

NW Wisconsin, (Northlands Newscenter) - Today marks the first day of our week long Community Spotlight on Bayfield, Wisconsin.
A proposed open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills south of Bayfield has many in Northwestern Wisconsin asking for more information

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Bayfield and surrounding areas could benefit from an increase in jobs, but those who oppose the mine say they're concerned for its impact on the environment.

"The waterways are our way of life; hunting, fishing and gathering."

Many members of the Bad River Tribe in Northwestern Wisconsin feel their way of life is threatened by the proposed iron ore mine. And while they and others opposed, understand the economic benefits to the region, they're concerned about long-term damage to the environment.

Tribal leaders recently met with Governor Scott Walker in Madison.

"We had a good initial meeting and I think part of it was we left the door open for having follow ups in terms of what other details they would want to make sure there are clean and effective mines if there was an additional mine in the future."

Bad River Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins said the meeting with the governor gave them the first opportunity to take their message to a larger audience.

"It was just a wonderful opportunity for the tribe in its scarce and limited resources to have a platform to try and assert a voice. A voice that essentially spoke for clean air and clean water."

But other voices are speaking for the economy. They say the region is depressed and unemployment is high. They say a mine could make a huge economic difference to the entire region.

"It could be an economic game changer, at least for a short period of time, in Iron and Ashland Counties. Huge benefits to the creation of jobs and to restaurants and supportive industries."

But the tribe wants to be sure that economic growth doesn't come at the expense of the environment. During their meeting with Governor Walker they presented ten principles they'd like to guide future development.

"We're going to spend more time, getting more details, and trying to figure out if there's a way to do that, not only for the Bad River, but for other tribal governments all throughout the state who have concerns."

The governor promised that a recently formed bipartisan committee will attempt to meet those principles. But that new Senate Mining Committee doesn't include tribal representation.

"The notion that a bipartisan committee is complete as a one side and a two side come together, I would assert that there's a third side and that is the tribes of Wisconsin."

We should point out its not just the tribes who have concerns about the impact of the proposed mine on the environment. Several other groups have formed as well including "Save the Waters Edge" which held a protest gathering this past weekend in the Penokee Hills.

The week old mining committee will need to meet to discuss current laws. The chair of the Committee, Senator Neal Kedzie, hasn't set up anything yet and is working to organize all seven members.

Jordan Weinand

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oppidan completes successful multi-tenant building in Twin Ports

Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Choice, Buffalo Wild Wings
occupy high-traffic retail space in Duluth Minnesota

MINNETONKA, Minn., September 20, 2011 --- After a successful redevelopment by Oppidan Investment Company, a multi-tenant building has now brought three distinct retailers to part of northern Minnesota’s busiest shopping districts. With the recent opening of the first Bed Bath & Beyond in the Twin Ports area, a 36,000 square foot retail building is now once again fully occupied.

“The building looks brand new, Reprise Design worked with us and the City of Duluth to create new and improved architectural elements to the building including new facade, awnings, parking lot lighting, outdoor patio seating, parking lot and a new roof,” said Jay Moore, who was Oppidan’s lead developer on the project. “This is a great example of what Oppidan does best, being able to make an existing facility meet the business needs of three separate retailers.”

The retail building occupied by Bed, Bath & Beyond, Buffalo Wild Wings and Home Choice is located on Miller Trunk Highway, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 53 and State Highway 194, directly across from Miller Hill Mall. The building was originally home to Duluth’s first Gander Mountain store. The highly visible property had been unused since 2005, until Oppidan had the opportunity to redevelop the existing building.

“This was a win-win project for Oppidan and for the shoppers of the region,” said Oppidan president Joe Ryan. “We were able to redevelop a retail space that was unused for a few years, and bring three great businesses to this high-traffic area.”

The Duluth retail location is one of many projects Oppidan has developed across the nation in the past year. The company has also completed facilities for Gander Mountain, Supervalu, Camping World, Orchard Supply Hardware and a number of other major retailers.

About Oppidan Investment

Since 1991, Oppidan Investment Company has been a leader in the merchant real estate development industry because of a simple philosophy established by founder, Joe Ryan: “Deliver value.” Oppidan specializes in assessing, developing and selling properties and has over $1 billion in developed property, in excess of 9 million square feet and 175 successful projects completed to date.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Battle of Sioux River by Jeff Copenhagen

The Battle of Sioux River

there was a terrible battle

along the Sioux River years ago

blood ran all the way

to Lake Superior.

one hundred and fifty years later

blood still flows.

these pills will kill me

I know this

they go into an envelope

the word ''powerless'' written on it

given to a man who

asks no questions.

we sit in silence near Siskwit Lake

smoke and watch the water for

signs of life.

there are always signs of life

there are always questions

with no need of answers.

these women these women these women

it doesn't get any easier

I am halfway to fifty

ask a friend who is sixty

when does this stop

when do I get a moments' peace.

he laughs and tells me

you're on your own here brother.

a woman I love and I

have both danced with death.

we know the steps.

they say dance with the one who brought you.

I owe her one more dance

in the summer rain.

this pain, this sadness

all washed away.

step, turn, spin

look up to the sky

my dance card is full.

the bakery down the street

sells these overpriced sandwiches

I buy the turkey avocado

the woman behind the counter is

beautiful, full figured

does this thing with mascara and eye liner

I flirt with her

I don't need to be doing this

with a woman half my age

she doesn't need old bald men

to flirt with her.

neither of us needs this.

gluten free bakery is some serious business.

we both need this.

these are hard won battles.

the blood, if it is meant to

will keep flowing.

--Jeff Copenhagen/Little Way of the North 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Iron River Flea Market Book & Craft Sale

Check out the Flea Market Book & Craft Sale, Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Iron River Community Center 9 a.m. -2 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of the Evelyn Goldberg Library. Local artists, Crafters and collectors. Tables are $10 each. To reserve tables call Audrey at 715-372-8623. Limited space available.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Domestic Partnership Registration: Does it Make Sense for You?' By Attorney Richard Lavigne, Main Street Law LLC, Ashland WI 54847


As of August, 2009, same sex couples in Wisconsin can address some of the disparities in the legal rights afforded to married heterosexual couples by officially registering their relationship as a “domestic partnership” with the office of their local county clerk. The main impact of Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Law was to amend a variety of other state laws to grant same sex partners, in certain situations, the same level of recognition and legal authority that have traditionally been provided to heterosexual spouses and family members. Although Wisconsin’s unfortunate constitutional amendment still prevents same sex couples from enjoying the full range of rights and presumptions afforded to legally recognized marriages, the Domestic Partnership Law offers some good reasons to consider officially registering the partnership, not the least of which is that some of the prospective benefits it affords are only available to members of a registered domestic partnership.

Some of the benefits offered by the Domestic Partnership Law include:

1. The right to compensation when your partner is the victim of a crime, and the right to be notified when the offender is released into the community.

2. The right to file suit and receive compensation for the wrongful death of your partner.

3. The privilege to refuse to testify against your partner with respect to any private communication during your domestic relationship.

4. The right to consent to your partner’s admission into a long term care facility and to have private visitation time.

5. The right, under certain circumstances, to disclosure of your partner’s mental health or AODA treatment records.

6. The right to disclosure of your partner’s medical records, so long as your partner has identified you as a person authorized to receive disclosure.

7. The right to family medical leave to care for a seriously partner.

8. The right to receive workers’ compensation or other benefits upon the death of your partner.

The Domestic Partnership Law also addresses some of the property rights issues that same sex couples face upon the death of one partner. For example, it creates a presumption that the listing of both partners on title to property establishes a joint tenancy with title automatically transferring upon death to the surviving spouse. It also grants domestic partners many of the same preferences that a heterosexual spouse would enjoy with respect to the administration of the estate of a deceased partner, including equal treatment when there is no will or when a will unintentionally excludes the surviving partner.

The Domestic Partnership Law is a step in the right direction toward equalizing the treatment of committed couples irrespective of gender, but it still leaves a lot of legal issues unresolved. Even if you register your domestic partnership, you and your partner will still want to strongly consider taking the extra steps necessary to maximize your ability to act on behalf of and in the best interest of the other. Some of the standard estate planning documents that attorneys regularly recommend to married clients are often even more important to same sex couples, including wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives. If you and your partner have significant assets that can’t be cleanly transferred by title or beneficiary designation, such as interests in a business, you will want to consider even more detailed documentation, such as a Domestic Partnership Agreement and possibly a living trust.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UMD Master of Tribal Administration readies for inaugurial year

More than two years in planning mode, the first-of-its-kind Master of Tribal Administration and Governance (MTAG) degree program at the University of Minnesota Duluth is ready for its inauguration next fall.

American Indian leaders from tribes across the country will have the opportunity to pursue coursework in various classes that include tribal sovereignty, tribal accounting and finance, federal Indian law, leadership and ethics. In addition, tribal language and cultural elements will also be weaved into coursework throughout the program. The UMD Board of Regents approved the program in February, 2010.

“This program will prepare students to apply their skills to manage the daily realities of tribal governance,” said Tadd Johnson, chair of the American Indian Studies Department and MTAG program director at UMD. “There is no program exactly like this. To me this is designed by the tribes.”

What makes this program unique, Johnson explains, it that virtually all of the tribes in Minnesota provided feedback to program coordinators at UMD that emphasizes a “hands-on approach” versus a more traditionally academic theoretical method.

An enrolled member of the Bois Forte
, Johnson worked in Washington D.C. for Sen. Mo Udall (check) and with the Clinton Administration on Indian gaming issues before becoming tribal attorney with the Mill Lac (check)
He is also a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.

University of Minnesota Duluth graduate and Fond du Lac (check)
Tribe Chairwoman Karen Diver provided input into the process of establishing the program, Johnson said. A graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Public Management (check) at Harvard University, Diver and other tribal leaders persuaded the MTAGH administration to take the exponential approach in designing the degree program.

With tribes positioning themselves to provide a wider range of programs and services for their members, Johnson says the partnership between the tribes as sovereign nations and the university has been one of collaboration.

“The tribes wanted an applied program that dealt with practical things,” Johnson said.

Other leaders agree with the premise.

“We know talented young people who would like to work in tribal government,” said Billie Mason, commissioner of education of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. “This new degree program will provide the training and development students need to effectively serve their people and build a career.”

The two-year, master’s degree program will begin in late August 2011 and will feature weekly online meetings and face-to-face weekend meetings at the UMD campus every three weeks. The curriculum and schedule will allow students to continue working while pursuing their degree.

The curriculum includes classes on principles of tribal sovereignty, tribal budgets, finance and accounting, principles of tribal management, federal Indian law and leadership and ethics.

Students in the program may already serve as tribal administrators, council members or tribal leaders. The curriculum is based on the roles that tribal administrators, leaders and professionals play in formal and informal situations that support tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Traditional language and culture is an important thread throughout the program.

The two-year program, which begins in Fall 2011, features face-to-face meetings at the UMD campus once every three weeks. Interaction with experts in each area of the curriculum will include special guests as well as UMD faculty, staff and students. The classes at UMD are offered from Friday night until Saturday afternoon. In order to accommodate working professionals and support existing commitments to families and home communities, a portion of the program will be offered online.

"The low-residency schedule was essential to allow American Indian tribal members from throughout the Midwest to attend," Johnson said.

Brian McInnes, assistant professor in the Department of Education, played a significant role by designing the Leadership and Ethics course, which he will teach. UMD is the only university in the country to offer this unique masters program focused on tribal leadership development. Dean Paul Deputy and former Associate Dean Tom Peacock of UMD's College of Education & Human Service Professions played a key role in the early meetings of the concept.

Tribal Collaboration

The program scope was developed by UMD through extensive consultation with tribal governments throughout the Midwest from 2009 through 2010. Johnson and Rick Smith, director of the American Indian Learning Resource Center, spent months meeting with leaders of American Indian tribes.
College of Liberal Arts Dean Susan Maher also has been actively involved in the development of this program. She is especially impressed by the support from the American Indian community.

"In October 2010, the 35 tribes of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes passed a resolution specifically supporting the program," Maher said. "All of the tribal governments from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa are advocates for this new offering."

Input on Program Development

On Feb. 10, 2011 the University of Minnesota Board of Regents instrumental in the development of MTAG.

On Feb. 10, 2011 the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Many approved of UMD's approach.

Chief Executive Marge Anderson of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said, "UMD developed this program by asking tribal governments what was needed."

Barb Brodeen, executive director for the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, agreed: "The Bois Forte Band is pleased that the degree program reflects our ideas and wishes."

Assisting the tribes and students was an important goal.

"Many of our talented young people would like to work in Tribal Government," said Billie Mason, commissioner of education of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. "Thanks to UMD's collaboration with Indian leaders and educators, this new degree program will provide the training and development both current employees and students need to effectively serve their people and build a career."

Smith noted that the elected leaders of tribal governments frequently come from the ranks of the tribal administrators: "UMD may be training some of the next generation of tribal leaders under this program."

Johnson also noted that the collaboration between UMD and tribal governments "will continue in the days and years ahead as the needs of Indian country change."
Most importantly, Johnson believes that an increasing focus on American Indian Studies is vital.

"UMD was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the country to recognize that American Indian studies was a unique discipline," Johnson said. "Since 1972, UMD has taught generations of students the importance of the history, language and culture of Native Americans. Now, we are taking another bold step."

About the Program Director

Tadd Johnson, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Bois Forte Band is a 1985 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. He has served as a tribal administrator, a tribal attorney, a tribal court judge and has taught numerous courses on Federal Indian Law and American Indian History. From 1990-1995, he served as counsel and staff director to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in the Office of Indian Affairs

G-Tac postpones mining project in northern Wisconsin

By Eric Hjerstedt Sharp

Critics of the proposed Gogebic Taconite open pit iron mine in Ashland and Iron counties can breathe a little easier ... for a while.

State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, said Monday he had heard rumors that Gogebic Taconite company officials in Milwaukee had closed the Hurley office and were not proceeding with exploration plans until the Wisconsin legislature rewrites the state’s review process law that could conceivably speed up the state’s permitting requirements for mining. 

The Ojibwe Times called immediately called G-Tac’s Hurley office, and although the company’s voice mail system was still working, company officials did not call back prior to press time. However, a Tuesday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story confirmed that the company would not be proceeding with test drilling that it had recently said it would be starting along an iron ore deposit from Mellen to Upson, roughly following Wisconsin Hwy. 77.

G-TAC official J. Matthew Fifield, told Journal-Sentinel reporter Lee Bergquist  that the company “is poised to spend $20 million to $30 million on the next phase of the project - but only if legislation addressing the specific needs of open-pit mining of iron ore is signed into law, he said.
"For us to move forward, we need iron mining laws," Fifield said.
Company officials have claimed the project would employ 700 workers with an average base pay of $60,000. While it had received support from economic development and business groups, the proposed mine didn’t fare as well with environmentalists or Bad River Tribal officials and citizens.

Critics of recent proposed legislation that would speed up the permitting process included Bad River Tribe Chair Mike Wiggins and environmental leaders throughout the state. Wiggins and others criticized the proposed project and permitting process that they say severely threatened ground and surface water surrounding the Bad River that flows into the reservation. They also criticized the proposed permitting legislation that downstate Republicans were drafting in Madison that would take away local governments’ say in determining safe mining standards and other concerns.

Herbster activist Frank Koehn had recently formed a citizens’ group called the Penokee Hills Education Project (PHEP), sponsored by the Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Ashland, to address “fast-track proposal(s) to begin iron ore (taconite) mining” in the area (See story, this issue). Members and other environmentalists had planned on attending a meeting tonight at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to discuss the G-Tac project although it was not known if news of the postponement had changed their plans.

“G-Tac tried to change the mining laws to give them unlimited and free access to the waters of the Bad River watershed so they could make billions of dollars,” Koehn said.

Koehn and others are critical that G-Tac had a large amount of input into the process with Republican legislators.

Jauch also criticized the first draft and G-Tac’s dominant role in helping with its drafting. However, Jauch was involved in the rewriting of the bill, and told The Ojibwe Times last month that improvements in the second draft had been made that would give locals more of a say in land use planning.

The draft was never finished, however, and will almost surely not be introduced this session which ends June 30.

“(The) GOP has said it is possible that legislation could be considered in the fall,” Jauch said.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Water Walkers complete journey: Blend waters of the world’s oceans at Bad River

By Eric Hjerstedt Sharp

Odanah ¬– They walked.

The first group started from the west on April 10 in Olympia, Wash., the territory of the Squaxin Island¬-Skokomish. And they headed east. They walked from the east from Machais, Maine, territory of the Passamaquoddy. First Nation people took a train from Churchill, Manitoba to Winnipeg and walked from the north. From the south in Gulfport, Miss., home of the territory of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, they walked north.

They are the Mother Earth Water Walkers, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are creating quite a media stir in their quest to remind people about the primary importance of water to all people. Camera crews from local, U.S. and Canadian news outlets, print reporters, radio broadcasters and bloggers were among the hundreds of people who headed for the top of Wisconsin last weekend to gather with and welcome the Water Walkers at the Bad River Pow Wow grounds and various other Ojibwe sites in Ashland and Iron counties.

Most of all they have support from people of all colors and creeds along the route. Cars honk and drivers wave in unity to their cause, walkers were quick to point out. As one walker noted: “We all need water; first and foremost.”

Along the way they walked through communities, reservations, cities, farmland and small townships. Each day they walked. “Ni guh Ishi chigay Nibi onji,” they say. (I will do it for the water). Bringing sea water from the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and Hudson Bay, with a caravan of vehicles to provide safety, food and first aid – not to mention comfort and even music along the way – they trudged through the highway miles each day. The lead women carrying the copper pails of ocean water, the lead men carrying eagle feather staffs, they pushed baby carts and walked hand in hand with the older children. A large number of elders walked, as did walkers they met along the way that could spare a few dozen miles before returning home.

And they walked.

More than 10 million steps in all. Led by Thunder Bay, Ont. Elder Josephine Mandamin, a First Nations water commissioner who has participated in her sixth Water Walk, a graduate of 2003, ’05, ’06, 07 and 2010, Mandamin, 69, is the guiding force and inspiration for all the Water Walkers and their tens of thousands of supporters from around North America and the world. A woman from Belgium heard about the Water Walk over the Internet and flew over the Atlantic just to gather with them at Bad River and hug Josephine.

The event was a social network phenomenon, with thousands of followers on facebook and Twitter, everyone who “followed” them was swamped with “alerts” indicating changes in schedules, real time blogs relating everything from weather conditions to reactions in various communities enroute. “Look for us on facebook,” read a message on a support vehicle parked along U.S. 2; while the groups from the north, west and south walked up Birch Hill to Cedar to meet with the east walkers Saturday.

The walkers from the east who, according to organizers, had stayed in Ironwood, Mich. Friday night before resuming their walk through Iron County. Led by Madeleine T. Huntjens, the group came into Cedar singing. Spirits were high despite the long days of walking, the stiff muscles and the aches and pains each morning. “I woke up with blisters,” said one walker Thursday morning, I feel like a real Water Walker now.”

Mandamin had met up with the large group of walkers from the east, (She had walked with all four groups, for at least 10 days each) and walked with them to Cedar and the ceremony at Three Fires Mide Lodge and Ojibwe Language Immersion Center.

The walkers from the south, led by Sharon Day of Minneapolis, arrived in Lac Courte Oreilles last week, where there were ceremonies at the LCO Powwow grounds. Walkers also celebrated at Fond du Lac Reservation and Duluth, Minn. this past week.

On Tuesday, the women walkers from the north and west attended a public event at Park Point in Duluth. The two groups had met up a day earlier at Fond du Lac for a women’s sweat lodge, one organizer said Monday.

Leading the walk from Duluth to Bad River, Elsie Leoso¬-Corbine, 52, Bad River, took time out from her walk to contact The Ojibwe Times and other area media earlier this week. The message was urgent: People must act now to preserve the integrity of water everywhere.

“(The journey) is bringing awareness about the importance of keeping our water clean for future generations ... for our great, great grandchildren who we will probably never see.”

In Duluth, Mayor Don Ness proclaimed June 7 as Mother Earth Water Walk Day. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed suit and signed a proclamation proclaiming the Water Walk Day in Wisconsin for June 11, the day the walkers from the four directions met up.

“The 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk is about future generations and sustainability, organizers claim. “We are conducting the walk to draw attention to the importance of water in sustaining life.”

Leoso-Corbine called this year’s water walk “The Woodstock of environmental issues ...”

It is no coincidence that the Water Walk takes place in the spring, and that women are carrying the water, according to walk organizers. Spring is a time of renewal and women are traditionally the keepers of the water, they said. Men, however, were asked to carry the staff in the long journey from the continent’s oceans.

Coming into LCO last week, Day and other walkers from the south were met with stormy weather, but the clouds passed and the weather warmed just in time for ceremonies at the Honor the Earth Powwow grounds.

Each walker was committed to completing this spiritual journey, but none more committed than Mandamin. A grandmother, Mandamin shares her concern for the waters of the Great Lakes, used by more than 35 million people of Canada and the United States.

Starting out with the Walkers from the west in Olympia, Wash. Led by Dawnis Kennedy, Mandamin walked with them for 10 days beginning on April 9. She then met up with the walkers from Gulfport, Miss. also walking with them for 10 days.

The importance of water to Mandamin? “It’s life,” she said. “Not just for us, but for everybody.”

Mandamin is optimistic about the health of the planet and the opportunity to keep water clean. “Everything is changing,” she said of people’s attitudes. “The spirit is changing everywhere.”

After the four groups of walkers met up, at the Three Fires Midewinin Lodge in Cedar, a few hundred yards away, Saturday, Bad River Elder Eddy Benton led a tobacco prayer for the walkers and the water.

“In this lodge,” Benton said, “we have heard so many stories about our ancestors and your ancestors. And we know that they are your ancestors because you have come to be with us today.

He said the most important thing for native people is to keep their heritage and culture. Next to the sacred fire, with lodge members tossing into it tobacco and cedar needles, he spoke: “Do not forget the people who no longer speak the language … Do not leave them behind … ”

Walker Carol Hopkins also spoke, especially about Mandamin. She said the spirit for the Water Walk came from this lodge when Benton said several decades ago that “Water would someday be worth more than gold,” and also that someday someone would walk around the lakes to focus on the worth of water.

“What are we going to do to take care of this water?,” Hopkins said Benton asked. “Add a price tag (to the water, as he predicted), is going to cause a lot of things to happen. I know it to be true. Who is going to put action to this? And it was our sister Josephine that began the Water Walks.

“Water is not only a natural resource, but it has a spirit,” Hopkins said. “The reason for the eagle staff is to create the path to protect the water. This spirit started here (Cedar) before there was a lodge.”

“Nothing deters her,” Hopkins said of Mandamin. “Nothing gets in her way. It didn’t matter if it was raining. It didn’t matter if we were whining about our blisters. She kept walking. She had knee surgery between water walks, but she kept walking.”

Back at the Bad River Powwow Grounds, several other tribal members spoke, including environmentalists who spoke out against the proposed Gogebic Taconite open pit mine between Upson and Mellen.

Northland College Professor Joe Rose calls Old Odanah home: “I grew up a couple of blocks from here,” he said. “No heat … we got our water from town pumps. It was the best time of my life, and it was good water.

“Now the ground water is so polluted. This proposed mine … it scares the hell out of me. It (the mine) is at the headwaters and it’s all downhill from there. I’ve never seen a clean mining operation and I’ve traveled all over.

“The proposed legislation eliminates the need for local needs to be considered for mining approval. Local approval would no longer be required, and it would allow private wells and surface water to be drawn down. It subjects private land owners to water draw downs and may create an ‘eminent domain’ scenario.”

Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr., also spoke at the powwow grounds. He told people it was symbolic that the first draft of the proposed rewrite of the state mining legislation was slated to be in its final form on June 11, but instead June 11 was the day the walkers gathered at Bad River.

“With an open pit mine, there is water pollution,” Wiggins said. “Sulfate pollution is a destroyer of wild rice.” The very same open pit mining that has devastated the Minnesota rice beds was caused by sulfate pollution. With sulfate pollution there is a tremendous amount of mercury that is released … that we see in our fish, in our bodies, that is causing learning disabilities in our children.

“In the Great Lakes, there are already fish advisories. There is a tremendous amount of impacts. Our way of life is threatened. The spiritual connection to the creator: that we are here for a short time and these things are gifts for us.

“We’ve already been eroded here in Indian Country,” Wiggins said. “We’re still grieving that we can’t drink the surface water. It goes hand-in-hand with what’s happening to other indigenous people around the world. When we talk about the water it’s hard to get people to listen.

“In this economy, It’s jobs, jobs, jobs. The timing (of the Water Walk) has been cosmic … that notion that it was meant to happen. The legislation was to have happened on June 11. Since then the legislation has been pulled back. I know that the Water Walkers had a lot to do with that too.

“It all goes kaput if we don’t have water to drink. For Bad River, I want to say thank you … Miigwiich … they were all totally needed. We’re water people. We’re people of the water. We are the wealthiest tribe I’ve ever seen. In our water, in our woods. Ninety percent of our reservation is wilderness.

“We’re interested in staying around for the next 1,000 years,” Wiggins concluded. “When (the mine project proposal) goes away, all the people of northern Wisconsin are going to benefit.

On Sunday, the Water Workers walked their final steps of this journey to Waverly Beach close to where the Bad River empties into Lake Superior. There, the Mandamin and the other elders from the various tribes across North America emptied their copper pails of water from the oceans into Gitchee Gumee.

The public was invited, but like parts of the tobacco ceremony at the Three Fires lodge, the press was asked to not take photos or videos.

The buckets of salt water gathered with waters from Lake Superior. The Mother Earth Water Walk 2011 was completed. The walkers had come full circle. The struggle, however, is not over, and walkers no doubt will be once again be organizing another water walk to focus attention on the importance of water.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

League of Conservation Voters:

With the formation of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Wisconsin's environment found its political voice." _ Gaylord Nelson, former Senator, Gov. Founder of Earth Day, former Honorary Chair of WLCV.

Live from the Northern Great Lakes XXXXXXX Center

Regarding the Bill to change the mining bill in Wisconsin: I would be surprised if it's not done by June."_State Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ojibwe Times: Wiggins delivers State of the Tribes address in Madison

By Eric Hjerstedt Sharp

MADISON ¬¬– Calling for cooperative environmental stewardship regarding the proposed open pit iron mining adjacent to the Bad River Reservation, Chairman Michael Wiggins, Jr. received praise for his annual State of the Tribes address in at the State Capitol in Madison by both tribal and state legislative leaders Tuesday following the event.

Wiggins speech packed the State Assembly with tribal leaders, government officials and 96 state senate and assembly members following an outdoor ceremony Tuesday morning. Although the Capitol building was still locked down, requiring participants to show their I.D.’s to gain entry, the massive protest crowds that have marked the lawn in recent weeks over Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining policy were not present. Neither was Walker; although Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen and other state officials were inside for the speech.

“Most people will never see where the water they drink comes out of the ground,” Wiggins said. “ … Our lands and water define who we are as Ojibwe people.” Wiggins cited naturalist Sigurd Olson’s book Runes of the North in recognizing the “paradigm shift” in discovering the “wonderment and awe” of the north. Wiggins also proposed a partnership between native and non-native people to help preserve Wisconsin’s unique environment. He said he was “looking forward to more work … more cooperation.”

Stating “they knew we were coming here today,” Wiggins referred to a Madison newspaper’s above-the-fold headline: “Mine seen as economic boon,” as a concern of his with regards to an example of environmental activity of concern of “all people of Wisconsin – tribal and non-tribal.”

Gogebic Taconite is proposing development of an open pit mine just east of the Bad River Reservation in Ashland and Iron counties. Mine owners say the mine would generate as many as 700 jobs, with hundreds more indirectly employed throughout northern Wisconsin.

However, there is criticism by some area residents, such as Nick Vander Puy of La Pointe, who writes about environmental issues from his Superior Broadcast Network. “About the only thing better than Mike Wiggin’s speech would have been to erect a lodge with ironwood poles inside the capital and occupy the site until the mining companies pack up and leave our territory.

“It felt really good hearing Bad River leader Mike Wiggins invite non-Indian support fighting (the mine),” Vander Puy added.

Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson said Tuesday that he also has concerns about the mining in Ashland and Iron counties.

“Why do we have to dig in the ground for minerals that are already out of the ground,” Maulson said. “I’m dead set against mining.”

Wiggins also covered a variety of topics including joint management of tribal and state governance, tourism, land and water stewardship, job training and economic development and law enforcement.

Mic Isham, Lac Courte Oreilles, also praised Wiggins address. Chairman of the Voigt Inter-Tribal Task Force, Isham said after the speech that wildlife and other environmental amenities are what establish “family memories” that make northern Wisconsin attractive.

Wisconsin state Sen. Robert Jauch called Wiggin’s address “a remarkable speech.” He respectively … reminded us that we should honor the earth.”

Ho Chunk President Wilfrid “Willy” Cleveland credited the state’s tribal conference for coming up with the ideas that were incorporated into the annual State of the Tribes Address.

LCO tribal member David Coons said it was “a powerful speech” pointing particularly to the mining and sovereignty issues Wiggins addressed.

Oneida Nation Chairman Rick Hill said the speech covered the important topics of protecting the environment, health care, economic development, education and elder issues.

Eric Hjerstedt Sharp begins career at Ojibwe Times

Eric Hjerstedt Sharp of Iron River is the new managing editor at the Ojibwe Times. Sharp will share a variety of duties with publisher and editor Joe Morey. He will also be contributing to the Lac du Flambeau Review.

Most recently a staff writer at the Reader Weekly in Duluth, he was also with the Ironwood (Mich.) Daily Globe, and The County Journal in Washburn. Sharp has been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Colorado. He was also recently an online editor at BusinessNorth in Duluth, Minn.

A freelance writer for such publications as the Reader Weekly, the Rocky Mountain News, Bloomsbury Review, Perfect Duluth Day and others, he also blogs extensively and has written news releases for several area businesses. He has also edited and published five books for various authors, including his own book: Rune Tailings (Sharp Tongue Press, 1995). Besides his editorial duties at the Ojibwe Times, Sharp will be selling and designing advertising copy for both the print and online edition. He will also be involved with the publication’s new social network site: RezLoops.

A multi-generational native of Wisconsin on both sides of his family, his great-grandfather was a logging teamster and farmer in the Cable area. On his mother’s side, an ancestor moved to La Pointe in the 1830s, before Wisconsin was a state. His father is a retired Osteopathic physician and surgeon in Waterloo; while his mother raised, trained and showed Alaskan Malamutes and was for a while was an active real estate broker. She died in 2009 in Iron River.

While at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where he was graduated from, Sharp played rugby, ski raced and worked for the college newspaper. Following a career as a ski instructor in Colorado, Montana as well as the Midwest, he began writing for newspapers and magazines. He graduated from A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer, Mich. and got his first job as a ski instructor at nearby Big Powderhorn Mountain.

“It’s great to be working with Joe at the Ojibwe Times, and I am thrilled to be working in this beautiful area where I was brought up,” Sharp said. “I remember coming to Telemark when it was still a downhill ski area, before Indianhead opened, after which time my family skied there. I also remember coming to Turtle-Flambeau Flowage as a Boy Scout, and some of my best memories are of exploring the lake country there and nearby at the family cabin on Pine Lake in Oma.”

In 2008, Sharp enrolled in a graduate-level online class at Harvard University Extension School after receiving a scholarship from Eli Lilly and Company. He hopes to someday continue in the graduate school while researching the side of his family that settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s and later moved to Wisconsin. Most of all, he said, he likes writing about the people and places of the North.

“Everyone has a story to tell. I have never lived in such a diverse and interesting place,” he said.