Thursday, February 10, 2011

Actual Democracy in Bad River by Nick Vander Puy

Carl Sack to miningmoolah

show details 7:26 PM (17 hours ago)

Next meeting 6 PM February 28 at the Bad River Elder Center, behind the Casino on US 2.

Anti-Mining Meeting Example Of Actual Democracy

February 9, 2011 - 4:52am
Guest Opinion

Some of the great things about the anti-mining meeting last week on the Bad River res was that we all had a comfortable place to sit in the circle, the event started with singing, and everybody who wanted to had an opportunity to talk.

A warrior stood by the drum holding the eagle feather staff. There was no overseer/moderator in a tie and suit harrying us and limiting our questions or comments.

The meeting focused on efforts by the Cline Mining group to open a large, metallic sulfide, acid producing, open pit mine in the Penokees, upstream from the reservation sugar bushes, wild rice beds and Chequamegon Bay. The event lasted as long as it needed to.

After the drum opening, elder Joe Rose told a creation story about the responsibility Anishinaabeg have to care for the creation. According to Rose a companion in this quest is Ma’iingun, the wolf, who travelled around Nokomis Aki (Grandmother Earth) with Anishinaabe naming the hills, the mountains, the plants, the rivers and other animals. The original man and the wolf became brothers on this journey, but the time came for them to move down different paths.

The Creator said, “Now you must part. But you are much alike. You will both be feared, misunderstood, and persecuted. You will both be hunted for your hair. What happens to one will happen to the other. You will remain brothers. A day will come when you will re-unite. What happens to one of you will happen to the other.”

One of the women in the circle mentioned a black wolf was found dead earlier this year near Birch Hill off highway two on the reservation. She said a funeral for this creature is necessary.

Several students from Northland College attended. Chuck Whitebird from Odanah mentioned his connection to the struggle on the Keweenaw Peninsula in upper Michigan where the Keweenaw Bay Indian community (KBIC) and allies are fighting to stop Kennecott from constructing a metallic sulfide mine near sacred Migiiziwasin (Eagle Rock). Whitebird explained the word “kennecott” means death in a tribal language.

Serving as an advocate journalist the past 20 years I mentioned how we fought the anti-treaty movement in Wisconsin, during the ‘eighties and ‘nineties and the successful fight against Exxon building an acid producing silver and gold mine less than a mile upstream from the Mole Lake Chippewa community and their sacred wild rice beds.

The Bad River tribal chair Mike Wiggins Jr. sang on the drum. He mentioned he’d be giving the annual State of the Tribes address to the Wisconsin state legislature. He plans to challenge the Wisconsin governor and call upon other tribes throughout Wisconsin and the ceded territory and Canada to assist our fight protecting the earth.

Wiggins mentioned he isn’t in agreement with the chair of the National Congress of American Indians who recently called for an increase in oil and gas extraction from Indian Country. Wiggins challenged the circle to find out more information about who’s the real money behind the Cline Mining Corporation for our next meeting Feb. 28 around 6 p.m. at the Bad River Elder Center behind the casino east of Ashland, off U.S. Highway 2.

According to Saginaw Chippewa member Marty Curry, who lives on Madeline Island, tribes ought to offer conservation jobs, selective timber harvest, habitat improvement, and wild rice re-reseeding to the community. Curry says, “We shouldn’t trade two hundred years of hunting, fishing, basket making, sugar bushing and gathering wild rice for 35 years of mining jobs.”

A fluent elder Tony DePerry, enrolled on the Red Cliff reserve, spoke in ojbiwemowin about the impact of mining and logging practices in the Canadian bush. He mentioned he serves the people as a herbalogist and that he’s wary of modern day pesticide spraying practices in the woods.

The final word of the evening came from Bad River okitchidaa (warrior, protector) Butch Stone from Bad River who said the conversation this evening reminded him about the conversation in the community when the okitichidaa about fifteen years ago blockaded the acid train crossing the reservation which hastened the closing of the White Pine copper mine on Lake Superior.

This opinion piece was written by Nick Vander Puy, of La Pointe.

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